The UFC Vegas co-main event saw Augusto Sakai and Blagoy Ivanov go the distance, only for an unpunished foul and a questionable scorecard to mar the outcome.
The co-main event of UFC Vegas (UFC on ESPN 9), the promotion’s return to Nevada as coronavirus pandemic restrictions were eased, saw heavyweights in action. Augusto Sakai, on a three-fight win streak inside the octagon (with five straight wins overall), was looking to build momentum and perhaps break into the top ten of the weight class. Opposite him was fellow Bellator MMA alumni and former WSOF/PFL heavyweight champion Blagoy Ivanov.
Sakai and Ivanov were neck-and-neck in the division, entering the night ranked 13th and 12th, respectively.
The fight that ensued was very slow to begin, with Ivanov looking to establish his jab while Sakai tried to land some low kicks. It perhaps seemed even slower, given the frantic pace the card’s earlier bouts had unfolded at. Still, Ivanov began to put on the pressure, and landed two straight left hands. Sakai responded with a thunderous leg kick that stopped Ivanov in his tracks. Ivanov was able to close the gap however and got the fight into the clinch up against the fence. Brazil’s Sakai shook him off for a moment, but Ivanov landed a left hand and got the fight back into the clinch for a moment. Sakai would shrug him off again and would start landing some more brutal leg kicks. We would head to the second round following another hard kick by Augusto Sakai.
Blagoy Ivanov opened up round two with a nice left hand to the body, and another left downstairs. Sakai landed a leg kick that forced Ivanov to shoot in, however, the attempt was stuffed. Sakai looked to pile the pressure on Ivanov, throwing a head kick and getting the fight into the clinch up against the cage. Ivanov would frame him off, and land a slick 1-2 to the body. Sakai landed a hard kick to the body after eating a big Ivanov left hand, and the Brazilian got the fight to the clinch once again. Ivanov would throw him off, and eat another hard leg kick. Ivanov began to limp, the cumulative damage from those kicks taking its toll. Still he was marching forward, determined. Sakai would step in with a knee but would be taken down after Ivanov caught it. That allowed Ivanov to end the round on top.
Augusto Sakai seemed to be the fresher fighter to start round three. Ivanov landed a clean 1-2, and Sakai responded with a combination of his own. Ivanov tried to bullrush Sakai and ate a big combination for his troubles. Sakai ate a 1-2 from Ivanov, and responded with a kick up the middle. Sakai would get the fight into the clinch, and Ivanov nearly got a takedown— but Sakai grabbed the fence and the takedown couldn’t be completed. The referee let it slide, and the fight continued on the feet. Ivanov landed a big left hand but Sakai just ate it. We would then go to the scorecards.
🗣 By SD!
— UFC (@ufc) May 31, 2020
Keeping in mind that the fence grab wasn’t penalized, the scores were certainly… interesting. Ivanov had it on one scorecard, by 30-27, which wasn’t really warranted. Sakai took it one the other two, 29-28, a more acceptable result. He should, however, have been docked for the foul.
Official Result: Augusto Sakai def. Blagoy Ivanov by split-decision (27-30, 29-28, 29-28)