UFC Fight Night 133 Pick

MMA Fight: UFC Fight Night 133: dos Santos vs. Ivanov
Key Matches: Junior dos Santos vs. Blagoy Ivanov
When: Saturday, July 14, 2018
Time: 10:00PM EST
Where: CenturyLink Arena, Boise, Idaho
TV: Fox Sports One

by Loot, MMA Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Junior dos Santos, (-175), 18-5 (12 KOs, 2 Submissions) vs. Blagoy Ivanov, (+155), 16-1 (6 KOs, 6 Submissions)

Ex-UFC Heavyweight kingpin Junior dos Santos will take on Blagoy Ivanov in the main event of UFC Fight Night 133 on July 14 in Boise. Many might not be familiar with Ivanov, a Bulgarian making his UFC debut. But he’s a decorated and accomplished fighter with nice credentials, despite being unknown to some who follow the UFC. The track record of dos Santos is better-known, a former champion who has fought, and beaten, some of the best heavyweights in MMA history. At 34, however, he’s not coming off his best patch of fights, having dropped 4 of his last 7 bouts. A win over the 31-year old Ivanov would pump some needed wind into his sails.

This promises to be an entertaining main event between two dangerous big men who finish fights—often times violently. The winner of this fight will be in line for some big spots, making the stakes high for this encounter. This pairing sets up what could be a misleading dichotomy. On one hand, you have the former champion dos Santos, a man who holds wins over a big part of the Mount Rushmore of MMA big men in Fabricio Werdum, Stipe Miocic, and Cain Velasquez. On the other hand is a fighter who never fought in the UFC, a man whose resume has been compiled at a much lower level.

It could be a mistake, however, to sleep on the lesser-known Bulgarian contender. The betting odds bear this out to a certain extent. While dos Santos might not be the powerhouse of his prime, one would think more prodding would be needed on the part of the general betting public than a +155 quote on Ivanov. It speaks to his accomplishments. Bettors should take notice when a relative unknown is only a mild underdog to an established commodity like dos Santos. And let’s face it—dos Santos really needs this one and should be at a level of heightened urgency for this battle.

Granted, this is a stern first test in Ivanov’s maiden journey into the UFC. One still shouldn’t be so fast to rule him out. He might not look that menacing at a stocky 5’11.” He’s been through a lot to get here, overcoming a violent bar attack in his native country when he was fighting for Bellator. The injury nearly cost him his life, as his heart was penetrated with a knife. A massively-accomplished sambo fighter, he holds a win over Fedor at age 22 in a sambo match. He was also an international competitor in judo.

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Ivanov’s MMA career was interrupted by the stabbing, costing him two years. He had been on quite a roll in the Bellator organization. He returned and started winning again, entered into a Bellator tournament to crown a champion. He came up short in the final to Alexander Volkov in the only loss of his career. Following that, he joined the World Series of Fighting, won that organization’s title, and enters this fight on a five-bout win streak. He can end fights suddenly, with six wins both by KO and submission. Ivanov is well-versed in all aspects of MMA and a well-decorated fighter with accolades in a few different forms of fighting. And you can’t discount a man who has the inner-makeup to overcome being in critical condition to get to this point.

A lot of this comes down to where on the spectrum-of-effectiveness dos Santos falls at this point in his career. It’s not easy to say. He’s not winning like before, but let’s look at who he is fighting to be fair—the best big men on the planet. Still, after beating Velasquez to win the belt, he lost twice in return fights to him, fell to Alistair Overeem, and in his last fight, fell to champion Stipe Miocic in a rematch of a fight dos Santos won, albeit controversially. One would probably be within their rights to say that his best fighting is behind him. But with only four fights since 2013, it leaves a sense that things are still up in the air. Who’s to say Ivanov wouldn’t be on a similar slide if he had been taking on the same top competition? And even if dos Santos were a depreciated version of the former wrecking-ball heavyweight we all know, he’s still more than dangerous enough to short-circuit any active heavyweight’s brains. Make no mistake—he remains a very dangerous man.

34 isn’t terribly old, especially for a heavyweight. But after taking on the best of the best for years, dos Santos certainly looks to be on a downhill trajectory. Especially in MMA, what was great yesterday isn’t always going to be great tomorrow. Heavyweights in particular have traditionally had a very short time prime in MMA. Again, even if all of that is true, that doesn’t mean Ivanov will necessarily be up-to-snuff. He is moving up a level, maybe even two levels, and one can never be sure how that will look come fight-night. Dos Santos has earned the right to be the favorite. I just think this is a time where bettors will be getting diminished returns on dos Santos. It’s a tough UFC debut for Ivanov against a far more-esteemed fighter. But if Ivanov were to have his first UFC fight against a big name, dos Santos might be the right guy. I’m going with the underdog.

Loot’s Pick to Win the Match: I’m betting on Blagoy Ivanov at +155. Bet this fight for FREE by taking advantage of a massive 100% sign-up bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $500 at GTBets!

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Misc.

UFC Weight Classes – The UFC is broken down by 8 weight class divisions with heavyweights being the biggest fighters (Maximum weight 265 pounds) and flyweights (125lb Max.) being the smallest fighters. Check out the other 6 classes of mixed martial artists including analysis for each division right here!

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