On Saturday, April 6, the UFC held UFC on Fuel TV 9 from the Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm, Sweden.

The event was headlined by former Strikeforce champion Gegard Mousasi, who faced fellow promotional newcomer Ilir Latifi. Mousasi was expected to face Latifi’s teammate, Alexander Gustafsson, in a fight that may have determined the next No. 1 contender at 205 pounds. However, the towering Swede suffered a cut in training and was not cleared by the Swedish MMA Federation.

In addition to the main event, the main card also featured Ultimate Fighter winner Ross Pearson taking on Ryan Couture in a lightweight affair, heavyweights Matt Mitrione and Philip De Fries locking horns, explosive bantamweights Mike Easton and Brad Pickett battling, another TUF champion, Diego Brandao, meeting Pablo Garza at featherweight and Sweden’s Akira Corassani taking on Robert Peralta, also at featherweight.

The event featured a total of 13 bouts. The six-fight main card aired live on Fuel TV, while the preliminary card streamed via the promotion’s YouTube page.

Mousasi earns decision over Latifi

He’s no Alexander Gustafsson, but Ilir Latifi came to fight against Gegard Mousasi in the light heavyweight showdown that headlined the night.

Through all three rounds, the two fighters engaged in a stand-up fight. Often, they were throwing single punches, rather than combinations. Mousasi was usually the one walking forward, though he wasn’t always the one landing with his strikes. Mousasi used his range to get the best of the stand-up while keeping Latifi on the outside. Latifi’s biggest surge of offense came in the third round when he ended up on top of Mousasi, who fell more so than actually getting taken down. It was not enough for Latifi, however, as the judges gave all three rounds to Mousasi for the unanimous decision win.

Mousasi revealed after the bout that he entered the contest injured and had also suffered a cold the week prior, blaming his lack of aggression on those factors.

Pearson finishes Couture with strikes

Lightweight fighter Ryan Couture sought to bring a new era to the legacy of the Couture name within the Octagon when he stepped into the cage against Ross Pearson. However, it wasn’t to be.

Couture pressed Pearson against the fence in the clinch in the early moments of the opening round. Eventually, the two separated and exchanged sparse strikes. Pearson went for a knee, which Couture latched onto for an attempted takedown. The two broke apart again and exchanged strikes as the bell sounded.

Pearson bega stalking Couture in the second period. Couture pushed Pearson against the cage in the clinch and went back to work in grinding his opponent out. Couture backed off and threw a combination. Pearson moved forward again, but he was having a hard time connecting with any punches. Pearson continued to move forward and caught Couture’s foot off a front kick, tripping him. That was the beginning of the end, with Pearson unleashing a barrage of punches that staggered and then dropped Couture, forcing the referee to intervene. Pearson earned the TKO victory.

Mitrione stops De Fries in 19 seconds

In the evening’s lone heavyweight bout, TUF 10 alum Matt Mitrione destroyed submission specialist Philip De Fries by way of a first-round TKO.

De Fries immediately started looking for takedowns, but Mitrione landed on top of him and delivered several blows for the finish. The end came at just 19 seconds of the opening period.

Pickett edges Easton in split decision

Bantamweights Mike Easton and Brad Pickett took to the Octagon in hopes of advancing their search for a title shot.

The first round was a back-and-forth affair. Both men scored takedowns, but did very little damage to their opponent.

Easton turned up the aggression early in the second frame, and Pickett responded in kind. The two then settled back into exchanging jabs. Pickett scored a takedown, but Easton immediately bounced back to his feet. The pair worked from the clinch against the cage, with Pickett scooping up Easton again, only to have Easton return to his feet instantly. Then Easton scored a takedown and worked from Pickett’s guard. Pickett escaped to the feet when Easton started looking for submissions. As the final 30 seconds ticked off the clock, both men threw big shots at each other against the cage. Although many of the blows found their mark, neither fighter was able to drop the other.

The third stanza kicked off with another standing exchange. Easton eventually went for a takedown, but in the ensuing scramble, Pickett ended up in top position. Easton worked his way back to his feet, only to be thrown to the mat by Pickett, who started searching for a guillotine as the two scrambled. Easton escaped and the two returned to exchanging strikes. The two ended the round with more big exchanges.

The judges were divided on the outcome, with one judge awarding the fight to Easton by a score of 29-28, while the other two leaned in Pickett’s favor with scores of 30-27. Pickett takes the split verdict.

Brandao submits Garza in first round

The Ultimate Fighter 14 winner Diego Brandao added another win to his UFC resume by submitting fellow featherweight Pablo Garza in the first round.

After feeling each other out on the feet for the opening two minutes, Brandao scooped up the much taller Garza and slammed him to the mat. The Jackson’s MMA fighter transitioned to side control and secured an arm-triangle choke that forced Garza to tap out at the 3:27 mark.

Corassani outworks Peralta for unanimous decision win

In the opening fight of the evening’s main card, featherweights Akira Corassani and Robert Peralta locked horns.

In the first frame, Corassani utilized footwork to confuse Peralta. In doing so, Corassani was able to land the more significant strikes of the round.

Peralta turned to leg kicks in the first minute of the second stanza, then began to hunt for a takedown with no success. Corassani continued to get the better of the stand-up, until Peralta landed a left hand that wobbled Corassani. Peralta attacked and the two engaged in a clinch against the fence. Corassani landed a big shot of his own as they separated and an additional left with just seconds remaining in the round.

The two battled on the feet in the opening moment of the third round, before Corassani charged forward and scored a takedown. Peralta tried to regain his feet, but Corassani remained persistent and repeatedly took Peralta back down. Eventually, Peralta did return to his feet and the two exchanged strikes in the clinch. Corassani scored another takedown with 30 seconds remaining and finished the round on top. It was enough to earn Corassani the unanimous verdict on the judges’ scorecards.

Preliminary Card Summary

Blackzilians fighter Michael Johnson appeared to be on the verge of victory in the first round of his lightweight affair with Reza Madadi, but the finish didn’t come. It turned out to be costly for Johnson. Madadi took over in the second round before ending Johnson’s night via submission in the third stanza.

The Ultimate Fighter 17 still has one episode left on FX, but that didn’t stop two of its middleweight participants from stepping into the Octagon in Sweden. Tor Troeng was able to take fellow TUF alum Adam Cella to the mat and take his back, locking in a rear-naked choke for the first-round submission victory.

Adlan Amagov’s unique striking attack was on display against fellow welterweight UFC newcomer Chris Spang. Amagov even landed head kicks from behind while he had Spang’s back in the clinch. Spang was never able to mount a significant offense, as Amagov took all three rounds on the scorecards for a unanimous decision victory.

Top featherweight prospect Conor McGregor made a successful UFC debut and a case for “Knockout of the Night” honors with a quick finish of Marcus Brimage. The Irishman wasted little time, landing a series of uppercuts and punches to end Brimage’s night in just 67 seconds.

Welterweight Ryan LaFlare maintained his unblemished record with a unanimous decision victory over TUF Smashes alum Ben Alloway. The UFC newcomer, utilizing takedowns and positional control, kept the pressure on Alloway throughout the fight en route to claiming the decision.

In middleweight action, Michael Kuiper’s judo looked superior to Tom Lawlor’s wrestling in the opening round, but Lawlor would come back to turn the tides in the second stanza. Kuiper displayed impressive takedown defense and utilized his judo to score takedowns of his own in the opening frame. Lawlor injured his knee as the round drew to a close, and Kuiper appeared more confident as the second round began. That overconfidence led to Kuiper leaving his neck exposed, and Lawlor sank in a guillotine choke that eventually coaxed a tapout from Kuiper.

In the opening contest of the evening, welterweight Papy Abedi used trip takedowns and ground-and-pound to eke out a split verdict over Besam Yousef, who kept it close with effective dirty boxing in the clinch and superior conditioning.

FULL RESULTS

Gegard Mousasi def. Ilir Latifi by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Ross Pearson def. Ryan Couture by TKO (punches). Round 2, 3:45
Matt Mitrione def. Philip De Fries by KO (punches). Round 1, 0:19
Brad Pickett def. Mike Easton by split decision (28-29, 30-27, 30-27)
Diego Brandao def. Pablo Garza by submission (arm-triangle choke). Round 1, 3:27
Akira Corassani def. Robert Peralta by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
Reza Madadi def. Michael Johnson by submission (anaconda choke). Round 3, 1:33
Tor Troeng def. Adam Cella by submission (rear-naked choke). Round 1, 3:11
Adlan Amagov def. Chris Spang by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Conor McGregor def. Marcus Brimage by TKO (strikes). Round 1, 1:07
Ryan LaFlare def. Ben Alloway by unanimous decision (30-27 x3)
Tom Lawlor def. Michael Kuiper by submission (guillotine choke). Round 2, 1:05
Papy Abedi def. Besam Yousef by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)

Photo: Gegard Mousasi (L) faces off with Ilir Latifi (Ryan O’Leary/Sherdog)

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