Heavyweight mess creates opportunity for Dos Santos-Ivanov winner
July 10, 2018 3:07 AM
by Alan Berg
They say be ready when opportunity knocks. For Junior Dos Santos and Blagoy Ivanov that time is right now.
A dreadful UFC 226 Heavyweight fight between No. 5 Derrick Lewis and No. 1 Francis Ngannou, did not impress UFC President Dana White, who will be looking for new contenders inside the division to be one of the next two or three guys lined up for a title shot against new Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier.
No. 7 Dos Santos and unranked Ivanov face off at UFC Fight Night this Saturday in Boise on FS1. If one of these two men can win impressively it’s possible they leapfrog Lewis in the rankings and earn a fight with former champ Stipe Miocic or top contender Curtis Blaydes for a title shot. The winner will likely be next behind Brock Lesnar and/or Jon Jones.
JUNIOR DOS SANTOS -170
BLAGOY IVANOV +150
At press time only William Hill has a line up, but other books will have lines as the week moves along. Check with your favorite book for current odds.
This is the classic two fighters headed in opposite directions. Dos Santos is a former UFC Heavyweight Champion while this is Blagoy Ivanov’s UFC debut. Ivanov was the World Series of Fighting (now Professional Fighters League) Heavyweight Champion.
First instinct is to back Dos Santos (18-5, 13 KOs, 1 Submission), as he will likely be the sharper of the two guys. He has great footwork and hand speed that Ivanov will have trouble matching. However, Dos Santos has been knocked out in two of his last three fights. JDS won a rather boring, workman decision over Ben Rothwell in his last win. In other words, he hasn’t looked that impressive in years.
Ivanov (16-1, 6 KOs, 6 SUBs) is a sambo expert, winning the 2008 World Sambo Championship, which included a win over legend Fedor Emelianenko. His lone MMA loss came in Bellator to Alexander Volkov, who is undefeated in the UFC.
My guess is Ivanov gets into a groove around the second or third round, finds a hole in Dos Santos’ defense and lands a takedown. Dos Santos has done a great job defending the takedown in his UFC career but he’s an old 34 in the UFC game and Ivanov has less big league miles which should give him the edge early, and I expect him to take advantage. Take IVANOV.
Other fights on the card: Sage Northcutt vs. Zak Ottow; Dennis Bermudez vs. Rick Glenn; Randy Brown vs. Niko Price; Myles Jury vs. Chad Mendes; Cat Zingano vs. Marion Reneau.
Keep in mind this isn’t the strongest UFC card, but after the Lewis-Ngannou debacle, nothing could possibly be as bad. In my opinion that fight should have been scored 30-30. No one won a round in that fight. No one should have won.