Ivanov will next square off with Ben Rothwell
UFC Fight Night 146. Both are coming off a loss to the same
person, and will look to break into the win column. As Ivanov tries
to earn his first victory in the UFC, learn about his championship
caliber through these career-defining moments.
Conquering the Last Emperor
Before starting a career in mixed martial arts, Ivanov was first a
combat sambo world champion. On his way to winning the 2008 title,
Ivanov defeated MMA all-time great and four-time combat sambo world
Emelianenko in the semifinals. The following day, he beat
Janosch Stephan of Germany to take the title.
UFC Champ Subdued
Beating a former UFC standout is a common gauge for someone’s
readiness to enter the Octagon. Ivanov, for his part, didn’t just
beat any heavyweight; he defeated a former heavyweight champion in
Rodriguez by TKO. It happened at an event called Chekhov MMA
Tournament in Chekhov, Russia. That time, Rodriguez was only 34
years-old and had scored wins over the likes of Randy
Arlovski and Paul
Following an impressive Bellator
MMA debut where he TKO’d William
Penn, Ivanov entered Season 5 of the promotion’s heavyweight
tournament, where he stopped Zak Jensen in
the quarterfinals. Unfortunately, Ivanov suffered an injury in
training so he withdrew from his semifinals bout with Thiago
Santos. But Ivanov would be back at Season 10, and this time,
he wouldn’t be denied. He decisioned Rich Hale and
Johnson to set a finals showdown with Alexander
Volkov, who beat him by rear-naked choke.
Ivanov was involved in an alleged barroom brawl that left him
clinging to life. In the morning of Feb. 26, 2012, a group of eight
men attacked him and two of his friends in a bar in Bulgaria.
Ivanov was stabbed near the heart and was consequently placed on
life support. It wasn’t until May 28 when he was discharged from
the intensive care unit, and the following day, he was released
from the hospital. Ivanov was determined to get back to
competition, and his doctors approved of it. In a phenomenal
display of heart, he returned on Sept. 13, 2013 and submitted
Lara in the very first round.
Ivanov has long been perceived as a heavyweight with championship
potential, and the WSOF was to become the vehicle to reach his
destination. On his promotional debut, Ivanov fought Smealinho
Rama for the heavyweight championship and submitted him by
guillotine choke. After battling so much adversity in his life,
“Baga” was finally a world champion. He successfully defended the
title four times before getting signed by the UFC.