5 Defining Moments: Blagoy Ivanov

By Mark Raymundo Mar 5, 2019


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Former World Series of Fighting heavyweight champion Blagoy Ivanov was outworked by Junior dos Santos in his Ultimate Fighting Championship debut. Given his strong credentials, “Baga” is given another tough assignment for his second fight inside the Octagon happening on March 9 at the Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita, Kansas.

Ivanov will next square off with Ben Rothwell at 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 champion Fedor 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 Ricco 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 Couture, Andrei Arlovski and Paul Buentello.

Season’s Best

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 submitted Lavar Johnson to set a finals showdown with Alexander Volkov, who beat him by rear-naked choke.

All Heart

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 Manny Lara in the very first round.

World Champion

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. Advertisement
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