Blagoy Ivanov wanted to fight Derrick Lewis, and he’s getting his wish at UFC 244.
Ivanov is on a two-fight winning streak after beating Ben Rothwell and most recently Tai Tuivasa at UFC 238. Now, he is set to fight Lewis who is ranked fifth and the exact opponent he wanted.
“This is the guy I wanted after my last fight against Tai Tuivasa. He is ranked number five and a guy I wanted to fight,” Ivanov told BJPENN.com.
In this fight, Ivanov feels he has more paths to victories than Derrick Lewis does. He knows his pressure, cardio, striking, and wrestling could all dictate this fight. Against “The Black Beast”he feels he just needs to worry about power shots.
“You never know, it is heavyweight. All it takes is one punch, so you never know,” Ivanov explained. “I am in much better shape and ready to go. I respect his power, but I don’t think it will work for him against me.”
Ivanov believes his cardio and speed will be key to exhausting and overwhelming his foe.
“My cardio is better, I have been ready for this fight. I see this fight as this,” Ivanov said. “I’m faster than him, cardio is better, my speed and kicks will be a factor. I know I will win this fight.”
Although Blagoy Ivanov is a world champion in Sambo, don’t expect him to use that grappling edge here. He believes he has the advantage on the feet and doesn’t want to showcase his wrestling to the heavyweight division until he needs to.
“Yeah, I will use it at the right moment to show off my wrestling. But, I like to strike and I like the standup but I have it in the back pocket,” he said of his grappling.
Ivanov has been improving his already solid wrestling alongside training partners Daniel Cormier and Cain Velasquez. But he says he didn’t do his camp at American Kickboxing Academy, instead working at the UFC Performance Institute.
“I work with DC a lot. He helps me a lot because I learn a lot of things from him, he is a former two-weight champion,” Ivanov said. “I learn a lot every day when you work at the gym with him. But I did all my camp at the Performance Institute in Vegas, so I prepared here. Javier Mendez was in Abu Dhabi for Khabib, DC was taking a break after Stipe Miocic so there weren’t many reasons to go there so I stayed in Vegas.”
Regardless, Ivanov is confident that wherever the fight takes place, he will get his hand raised. He also says this is the most important fight of his career.
“That fight I had no ranking, this one I am in the top-10 and this will push me into top-five. Every fight is important but this is the most important fight,” he said.
If Ivanov wins this fight at UFC 244, he believes he could get a title shot but believes he will be one fight away.
“I think after Derrick Lewis I am one more win away from getting title shot. I’m only focused on Derrick and getting the win. We will see the fight how it goes,” he concluded.
Who do you think will win the fight between Blagoy Ivanov and Derrick Lewis at UFC 244?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 10/30/2019.