Ilir Latifi targeted for heavyweight debut opposite Derrick Lewis

Ilir Latifi
Image: Ilir Latifi on Instagram

Long-time UFC light heavyweight contender Ilir Latifi is reportedly headed up to the heavyweight division.

According to ESPN, the Swede will hike up to heavyweight to battle fearsome knockout artist Derrick Lewis on February 8 — though contracts are not yet signed.

The Feb 8. card, which is expected to be a pay-per-view, does not yet have an official location, but BJPenn.com’s Mike Heck has reported that Houston, Texas — Lewis’ adoptive home — is being considered.

Latifi is currently on a two-fight skid. In his last fight, which occurred in Uruguay in August, he was stopped by former light heavyweight title challenger Volkan Oezdemir. In the contest that preceded that, he lost a decision to Corey Anderson.

Latifi has fought at heavyweight previously, but not since his first two pro bouts, which occurred in 2008. In one of those bouts, he and his opponent Blagoy Ivanov infamously destroyed the cage with their unbelievable size and power.

Interestingly, Latifi actually asked for this fight with Lewis.

“I even have plans of fighting at heavyweight, so let’s see,” Latifi said ahead of his August loss to Oezdemir. “Both divisions are tough. Light heavyweight is as tough as heavyweight. Both divisions they hit hard; light heavyweight they are faster, higher paced. There are advantages of the heavier guys, so we’ll see.

“I would like to fight anybody in the top-10 — maybe Derrick Lewis,” he added. “I’m not looking past Volkan, this is a fight to focus on and do it. After that, let’s see, let’s take the decision from there.”

Evidently, the UFC liked the sounds of this proposed matchup.

Lewis last fought earlier this month, on the main card of UFC 244 in New York City, where he picked up a split decision victory over the former World Series of Fighting heavyweight champion and former Latifi foe Ivanov. This win corrected a two-fight skid for the Texan, who was stopped by Daniel Cormier and Junior dos Santos in his next most recent appearances.

What do you think of this planned Ilir Latifi vs. Derrick Lewis fight?

This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 11/18/2019.