(Money. Girls. Fame. Private locker rooms that you don’t have to share with old men washing their balls. A win for Ilir on Saturday would be truly life-changing. / Photo via LoveStrandell)
First-time UFC jitters are bad enough when you’re curtain-jerking on the prelims. Can you imagine what it would be like to go from relative obscurity to UFC headliner? Well, Ilir Latifi is about to find out this Saturday, God bless him. Come to think of it, his UFC on FUEL 9 opponent Gegard Mousasi is technically in the same situation, although at least the Dreamcatcher has had the benefit of previously competing in major promotions like Strikeforce, DREAM, and PRIDE.
Latifi is a long shot in every sense of the word, but of course this is a sport where anything can happen. Plenty of fighters have found themselves at the top of the lineup for their first UFC fight and made the most of it. Others have crashed and burned in horrific fashion. So which camps will Latifi and Mousasi fall into? Read on for a brief history lesson, and let us know what you think…
- Anderson Silva. In one of the most stunning UFC debuts, period, the up-and-coming Brazilian striker stepped into Chris Leben‘s world in the main event of Ultimate Fight Night 5 in June 2006 and scored a flawless victory over the southpaw slugger, dramatically altering the course of history in the UFC middleweight division. Silva was granted an immediate title shot and hasn’t lost a fight since.
- Alistair Overeem. Watching the Reem tear Brock Lesnar apart at UFC 141 validated everyone who ever thought that Lesnar was a pro-wrestling fraud, and that Overeem was the future of the heavyweight division. It hasn’t exactly worked out like that, but at the time, it looked like we were entering a new era.