UFC Fight Night 133: dos Santos vs. Ivanov Pick to Win
When: July 14, 2018
Where: CenturyLink Arena, Boise, Idaho
TV: Fox Sports One
by Scott of Predictem.com
UFC Fight Night 133 features what could be a massively-entertaining main event, with heavyweight Junior dos Santos taking on Blagoy Ivanov. It’s a high-stakes battle, with the winner moving on to bigger opportunities. It also features a pair of very dangerous big men who can end fights suddenly, making this a hard-to-call fight. Does one go with the more-dependable and proven commodity in dos Santos? Or is the UFC neophyte Ivanov worth a gamble?
Junior dos Santos, 18-5 (12 KOs, 2 Submissions), (-165) vs. Blagoy Ivanov, 16-1 (6 KOs, 6 Submissions), (+135)
Former UFC Heavyweight Champion Junior dos Santos will battle dangerous and rising Bulgarian contender Blagoy Ivanov in the main event of UFC Fight Night from Boise on July 14. The exploits of dos Santos are well-known, but a 3-4 record since his only title defense has him needing a big win to remain in serious contention. At 34, another title-run isn’t totally inconceivable, but he finds himself in a must-win crossroads situation against a menacing opponent in Ivanov. The 31-year old Ivanov is once-beaten in a career that spans over a decade and he is certainly one of the better heavyweights not in the UFC, as this is his organizational debut. Can he show he belongs or will dos Santos remind us he’s the guy who holds wins over three of the best big men of all time in Fabricio Werdum, Stipe Miocic and Cain Velasquez?
A few things are interesting about this fight. From an odds standpoint, one would think people would need more urging to bet on Ivanov. After all, this is his debut in the UFC. He has beaten some tough guys, but the level of opposition between the men isn’t even comparable, with dos Santos having taken on, and beaten, some of the more relevant heavyweights in MMA history. One would have to concede that even a waning dos Santos is a heck of an entrance exam into the UFC for Ivanov, as he is a former champion who remains very dangerous. Plus, he has a ton on the line, as this one fight could be isolated as the fork in the road in his career. A loss makes his future prospects bleak.
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Despite all of that, taking a whirl on Ivanov would only yield a modest +135, as of press time. It has the look of the book urging you to lay the mild favorite price on the former UFC Heavyweight Champion. But Ivanov obviously deserves a long look. A squat 5’11,” his trip to this spot hasn’t been smooth. He had a decorated Sambo background, having beaten Fedor Emilianenko at 22 years old. Ivanov was also decorated as a judo player and represented his country. He started his MMA career in his native land, before moving into the Bellator organization in 2011. Ivanov started stringing together a nice run of wins, almost all of them by stoppage. He has as many submissions as he does knockouts, showing he can get to the winner’s circle in any number of ways.
In the midst of his Bellator run, Ivanov was involved in a bar fight when he was stabbed in the heart with a knife, nearly dying. Ivanov was in a coma and in critical situations while in the hospital. As a result, he was out for nearly two years, but miraculously returned to the octagon and got back to the business of winning, with three submissions in four wins setting up a tournament final with Alexander Volkov, where he was choked out in the second round in his only loss. He joined the World Series of Fighting, where he won their championship, and another fight, giving him a five-bout win streak entering this fight. Since May of 2014, however, Ivanov has just five fights.
It’s not easy to surmise exactly where dos Santos is at this precise point in his career. The results haven’t been great of late, though one is inclined to give him a pass on account of who he has fought. After beating Velasquez, he lost twice in return fights, also losing to Overeem, and to Miocic in a title fight in his last octagon appearance. Granted, his top work is more in the past, which includes a list of wins over the best to ever do it. He has fought just four times since 2013 and it all comes together to create a bit of a fog as it concerns where dos Santos really fits into the big picture. Backers of Ivanov could place stock in dos Santos’ losing some fights, but they were against the best in the business-some of the best to ever do it. Those losses didn’t come against UFC neophytes who haven’t beaten any elite opponents.
By the same token, it’s not out-of-line to project that the Brazilian former champ’s best days are behind him. Fighters who have sunk to far-lower depths than dos Santos have come back all the way, but when looking back at his UFC tenure, this will likely be the downslide phase of what has been a Hall of Fame career. Some speculative optimism is required to take the leap-of-faith on Ivanov, who is in fact jumping up a class, or even two. I just think that if Ivanov were looking to take on a big-name whose star-power exceeds his actual merit as a fighter at this point, dos Santos is a good choice. I’m going with Ivanov.
My Pick to Win: I’m betting on Blagoy Ivanov at +135. While he hasn’t been in there with a fighter of dos Santos’ credentials, the underdog has an accomplished fighting background and has overcome a lot to get to this point. The former champ is past his best and while rightfully favored, betting against him in the right spots makes sense at this stage of his career. Bet YOUR Ivanov/dos Santos pick using your credit card and get a 50% bonus up to $250 FREE at Bovada Sportsbook!