Blagoy Ivanov is ready to fight again.
The Bulgarian heavyweight was considered a big signing for the UFC after he dominated in the now defunct World Series of Fighting organization, capturing heavyweight gold. The UFC had so much confidence in Ivanov that his UFC debut was a main event spot against former champion Junior dos Santos. He ended up losing the fight by unanimous decision, but for Ivanov it was a great learning experience.
“There was more pressure for me because it was my first fight in the UFC and the main event,” Ivanov told BJPENN.com. “I got some issues with my knee, and I almost pulled out, but I decided to fight. A couple of things happened, but now I feel much better than my first fight.”
In his second fight, which goes down at UFC Wichita this weekend, Ivanov will welcome Ben Rothwell back to the Octagon after nearly three years away due to an issue with the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). Rothwell is no doubt another big name for Ivanov, but that’s just what the Bulgarian was hoping for when he came to the UFC.
“This is why I am in the UFC, to fight with the best guys in the world,” he said. “This is why I’m here, I want to fight with the best. He is a tough guy, tough opponent. He is one of the guys who has the most experience in the cage in heavyweight. I prepared hard and I feel great for this fight so we will see Saturday.”
Blagoy Ivanov split his training camp for this fight between two top gyms — American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) and Xtreme Couture.
“I did my camp in San Jose at AKA and I was here for four weeks. I think it worked very well training there,” Ivanov said. “I’m very confident and very ready for this fight. Then, the final two weeks I went to Vegas to train at Xtreme Couture.”
Come Saturday night, the Bulgarian heavyweight is ready to get his hand raised and get his first UFC win. He knows it won’t be easy, but with Rothwell returning after nearly three years away, Ivanov thinks ring rust may play a factor.
“I think it will be hard for him, but you never know in heavyweight. One punch can change everything,” Ivanov explained.
Ivanov is ready to start his march up the heavyweight rankings, but a win over Rothwell is crucial. That being said, he’s confident his preparations will carry him to victory.
“I have some tactics, and we will see who is more prepared,” Ivanov concluded.
For now, the work is already done and it is officially fight week for the 32-year-old. After this fight, the hope is Ivanov can fight more often in the UFC and really make a name for himself in the heavyweight division.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 3/5/2019.