Five Things You Might Not Know About Blagoy Ivanov

By Mark Raymundo Jul 13, 2018

It is sensible to want to deprive Ultimate Fighting Championship newcomer Blagoy Ivanov his chance against former champion Junior dos Santos. But when you learn about his remarkable story of recovery, you will agree that nothing is impossible for the former World Series of Fighting heavyweight champion.

Going 9-1 after being in a coma is a feat that is nothing short of amazing. And at UFC Fight Night 133, he will try to extend his winning streak to six. To date, the only loss of his career was to No. 3-ranked Alexander Volkov. A win over dos Santos will not only put his name into the consciousness of UFC fans, but more importantly, it may just trumpet his entrance among the UFC heavyweight elites. Here are five more things you might not know about the Bulgarian.

1. He has a win over Fedor Emelianenko when the latter was in his prime.

The victory came in the semifinals of the 2008 Combat Sambo World Championships. A decorated Sambo practitioner, Ivanov went on to win the finals over Janosch Stefan of Germany. He had met “The Last Emperor” at Russia’s Presidents Cup the previous year, with Emelianenko getting the better of him. That time, the Russian mixed martial arts great had taken the 2002, 2005, and 2007 International Sambo Federation World titles, and was already considered as one of the greatest the sport has ever seen.

2. He chose mixed martial arts over the Olympics.

Ivanov is a world-class judoka who represented his country in several international tournaments, including the European Championships and the 2003 Balkan Junior Championships, where he placed first. He was good enough to enter the 2012 Summer Olympics, but chose to focus on his burgeoning MMA career. Back then, he had an undefeated record of 7-0 (1 NC).

3. He survived a near-fatal bar fight.

On February 2012, a group of eight men attacked Ivanov and his two friends at a bar in Bulgaria. He was stabbed just below the armpit, with the blade penetrating his heart and reaching a part of his lungs. Ivanov spent six hours in the intensive care unit and his condition only stabilized with help from an artificial respirator. After a week, he was switched to a milder treatment regimen. However, another week passed and his condition deteriorated. He was placed in a medically induced coma for approximately 10 weeks. Ten days after waking, he was discharged from the hospital.

4. He gave a press conference inside the hospital.

Eager for an MMA return, Ivanov conducted a press conference inside the hospital to declare his intentions. Doctors confirmed that he would be able to compete after six months to one year of recovery.

5. He went 4-0 after being placed in a coma.

On September 2013 at Bellator 99, he made a successful return with a submission victory over Manny Lara. This was followed by three more triumphs at the expense of Keith Bell, Rich Hale and Lavar Johnson.


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