It was almost exactly one year ago that Ilir Latifi last stepped into the Octagon, but he didn't look like he missed a step as he picked up a big win at UFC 215 on Saturday night.
Latifi faced off with highly touted and undefeated prospect Tyson Pedro, who had sliced through all of his competition thus far in the UFC with two dominant first-round victories. That streak came to an end as Latifi used his veteran experience to stifle Pedro for 15 minutes in their light heavyweight showdown.
Latifi wasted no time throwing his signature sledgehammers with each punch looking like a knockout shot before he pressed forward and shot for his first takedown of the fight. Latifi got the fight down but Pedro did a good job scrambling free and getting back to his feet.
On the break, Pedro fired off a nasty body kick that rattled off of Latifi's rib cage with the smack reverberating throughout the arena in Edmonton.
Latifi was undeterred by the shot to the body as he continued to press the action, never allowing Pedro a moment to breath without fighting off clinch or takedown attempts.
Pedro looked more comfortable with his kicking attacks in the second round but once again Latifi rushed forward before landing a big slam to bring the fight down to the mat.
As the fighters worked back to the feet again, Latifi was relentless with his pressure, putting his head and shoulder into Pedro's chest and then unloading hard left hooks directly to the jaw.
— #UFC215 (@ufc) September 10, 2017
Pedro refused to back down as the third round got underway but once again he found himself fighting off the anvil-like punches coming from Latifi, who then managed to again stifle his opponent's offense with a well-timed takedown.
Latifi continued his assault on the ground while feeding Pedro a steady barrage of punches that eventually opened up a cut over the left eye. When the round came to an end, Latifi knew he had done enough to win while Pedro looked somewhat deflated following a grueling three round battle.
The final scorecards read 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27 all in favor of Latifi, who moves to 6-3 in his UFC career and 13-5 with one no contest in his career. The fight also served as the first loss of Pedro's career, who had actually never been out of the first round before his matchup with Latifi on Saturday night.
(Photo courtesy of UFC)