Sengoku ‘Ninth Battle’ Preview

Fujita vs. Ivanov

By Tim Leidecker Jul 31, 2009
Daniel Herbertson/

Fujita will pound out Ivanov.
Kazuyuki Fujita (15-7) vs. Blagoi Ivanov (1-0, 1 NC)

The Storyline: Fujita has taken over the job Gary Goodridge used to perform around the turn of the millennium, when he was the official gatekeeper for Japanese MMA’s heavyweight division. However, the 38-year-old wrestler, who sports a head as big as a football helmet, has not pursued his profession to its fullest of late, as Americans Jeff Monson and Travis Wiuff made it past him with relative ease. Fujita wants to prove he still has a couple of ounces of gas left in the tank.

Ivanov -- better known as The Guy Who Beat Fedor Emelianenko in Sambo -- will try to break down Fujita’s iron-headed defense. Contrary to what Sengoku wants fans to believe, this does not represent the Sambo champion’s MMA debut. Ivanov fought twice in the domestic promotion Real Pain Challenge last year, as he stopped jobber Jancho Dimitrov midway through the first round. He was also part of a 55-second fiasco with Swedish monster Ilir Latifi, during which the ring broke.

The Breakdown: Ivanov was brought to Sengoku by SK Absolute members, the Sambo fetishists responsible for Artur Oumakhanov’s and Alavutdin Gadjiev’s brief moments of fame last year. While his win over the world’s top heavyweight warrants notice, one has to bear in mind that Emelianenko hardly trained for last year’s World Combat Sambo Championships due to his filming a movie in Thailand.

In essence, Ivanov remains a big 22-year-old kid who knows some throws and can strike some. However, he now must bear the burden of his victory over Emelianenko. Booked in a late September fight with Emelianenko’s younger brother, Aleksander, in Seoul, South Korea, Ivanov could position himself for an MMA rules mat with the elder Emelianenko or some highly lucrative paydays against Japanese opponents, provided he can somehow win his next two fights.

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The Prediction: Though he has lost much of the explosiveness that characterized him during his prime, Fujita remains a shrewd ring wolf with enough tricks and enough experience to lure the green newcomer into a trap. Look for Fujita to control the takedown and pound out Ivanov on the ground late in the first or midway through the second round, thus stealing the young man’s thunder and making him a marginal note in MMA history.
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