FanPost

Will Blagoi Ivanov Become the Next Great Heavyweight Fighter in Japan?

Blagoi-ivanov-oleg-taktarov_mediumMonikered as the "Man Who Beat Fedor", Blagoi Ivanov has an interesting set of tasks to deal with in the coming months. He'll make his MMA debut on August 2nd at Sengoku IX against former PRIDE fighter and pro-wrestler Kazuyuki Fujita after signing a three-fight deal with Sengoku, and he is also rumored as to potentially taking on Fedor Emelianenko's brother, Aleksander Emelianenko, in the new South Korean promotion Fighting Mixed Combative. In typical Japanese fashion, it seems that Ivanov is being thrown to the wolves quite early in his career, but there is a favorable chance that Ivanov could come out on top.

Fujita offers some slight risks to Ivanov's first foray into MMA. He has the wrestling ability to stuff takedowns, but Ivanov has exhibited some great Sambo technique in his matchups in combat Sambo that lead me to believe that he'll have not only the technical acumen to put Fujita on his back, but the surprising strength to plow through his sprawl. I imagine Ivanov can win fairly quickly, but the huge question that has been on my mind since he defeated Fedor Emelianenko back in November of last year has been whether or not he'd be able to withstand blows.

Even though Ivanov defeated Fedor at the Russia's President's Cup, he managed to show a true flaw that could become a problem if he plans on having success in the worldwide heavyweight picture. He was able to use his size and strength to control Fedor on the ground after Fedor made a mistake, but Fedor's stand-up skills were far superior to Ivanov's skill set. In fact, Fedor managed to drop Ivanov badly later in the fight, but he didn't have enough time to make up for the points already awarded to Ivanov. If not for a standing count in Sambo, we may not be actually talking about Ivanov right now.

With that said, Fujita and Aleksander offer different gameplans in taking on Ivanov that will give us an idea as to where he currently is in his training regiment. Fujita has very heavy hands, but he's fairly untechnical and susceptible to the ground game. I imagine that one clinch with Fujita, and Ivanov will be able to take full advantage. Aleksander is an entirely different case.

Aleksander not only offers a very good Sambo base to compete with Ivanov, but his boxing is a staple of his skill set. He likes to maintain movement, keep on his toes, and circle to work his signature jabs to work over opponents. It'll be interesting to see if Ivanov will be able to wade through Aleksander's punches to get the takedown, or if his stand-up skills will be lacking enough for Aleksander to catch him.

The true question becomes whether or not his ground skills coupled with his size and strength will be enough in the world of MMA to move him up the ranks. I think there is a legitimate chance for him to do well in Japan. If he actually defeats Aleksander, there aren't too many options for Ivanov if we look at where he'd be ranked. Antonio Silva or Marcio Cruz? It's going to be a revealing three months for Blagoi Ivanov.

\The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Bloody Elbow readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloody Elbow editors or staff.

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