UFC 244: Blagoy Ivanov Feels Sambo Background Key to Defeating Derrick Lewis

Sambo background and superior cardio will be big factors in defeating Derrick Lewis at UFC 244, says Blagoy Ivanov.

New York, NY — Ranked at eighth in the UFC’s official heavyweight rankings, Blagoy Ivanov returns to action at UFC 244 with a big test in front of him: Derrick Lewis.

What Lewis brings to the table is well known: Fearsome power that seems to stay with him right into the dying seconds of the fight. Just ask Alexander Volkov.

Cageside Press spoke to Ivanov at the UFC 244 media day, where the Bulgarian fighter told us that he expects a win will put him on the brink of fighting for gold. “This will put me real close to the title shot,” said Ivanov. “So this is one of the [most] important fights of my career. I’m ready for this.”

The former Bellator heavyweight and WSOF/PFL heavyweight champion has just two defeats on his record: Junior Dos Santos and Alexander Volkov (from their Bellator days), both top athletes in the UFC’s heavyweight division. Lewis, is another tough test. But Ivanov knows he offers name value.

It’s the number next to his opponent’s name, however, that excites Ivanov. “It’s my goal to fight with some guys from top five,” he said. ‘The Black Beast’ Lewis sits at #5 in the weight class.

And so Ivanov is ready for the challenge, inside the walls of perhaps the most storied combat sports venue in modern history. “Here in New York, the mecca of combat sports in Madison Square Garden, I think it will be a great fight,” Ivanov exclaimed.

Lewis’ past struggles with cardio and wrestling have been well documented, and Ivanov feels those give him an edge. “I think my Sambo background will be my key. My conditioning too,” he predicted. “I’m in very good shape right now. We did everything right in the camp, with the same-size sparring partners. I think I’m ready for Derrick.”

Blagoy Ivanov vs. Derrick Lewis goes down Saturday, November 2 at UFC 244, taking place at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The card airs exclusively on PPV in North America.