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WSOF 31 Results: Blagoy Ivanov bests 'Cuddly Bear' to retain WSOF title

Blagoy Ivanov overcame adversity, defeating the "Cuddly Bear" to retain his WSOF heavyweight title.

It was a grueling 25-minute fight packed with blood, sweat and wild haymakers. Both heavyweights had their moments in what was mostly a striking battle, but it was Ivanov's technique and clean shots that enabled him to outpoint Josh Copeland. During the first round, Ivanov was cut on the side of the head and all throughout the fight, the cut was bleeding non-stop. Nonetheless, Ivanov kept the pressure on Copeland despite the extensive bleeding and was able to win a unanimous decision. The Bulgarian fighter is now 14-1 as a professional fighter. His last and only loss came to Alexander Volkov at Bellator 120.

In the co-main event of the night, former UFC fighters Mike Ricci and Jason High fought for what was likely to be a title eliminator bout.

In the first round, High closed the distance, clinched with Ricci, and slammed him on the canvas. Throughout the rest of the round, High controlled most of the action on the ground. In the second round things changed, as it was Ricci who took down High. However, High was able to get back on his feet, but just to get picked apart by Ricci's striking. Just when things were turning ugly for High, the 34-year-old American Top Team fighter blasted Ricci with a left hook, dropping him to the canvas, and then followed up with ground-and-pound, forcing the referee to stop the fight at 4:08 of the second round.

In the most exciting fight of the card, former UFC fighter John Howard took on promotional newcomer Mike Arrant. It was a back-and-fourth battle that had many exciting moments. Howard, who's mainly known as a striker, attempted several takedowns throughout the fight, but it was in the final minute of the fight that he was able to get Arrant to the ground and land significant strikes. With the use of his striking and grappling, Howard outpointed Arrant in a unanimous decision. This victory marks "Doomsday's" first fight since his UFC release back in December.  Howard is now 24-12 as a professional MMA fighter.

In a featherweight bout, Luis Palomino took on Sheymon Moraes. The bout was competitive through all three rounds, but Moraes seemed to do just enough to outpoint Palomino in every round. Palomino stayed mostly in the outside of the cage landing strikes, while Moraes pressured forward and utilized his kicking arsenal to punish Palomino. Moraes defeated Palomino via unanimous decision, and is now 2-0 since losing to the WSOF bantamweight champion Marlon Moraes back in August 2015 at WSOF 22. On the other hand, the former two-time lightweight title challenger Palomino is 1-4 in his past five outings.

Additionally, to open up the main card, 27-year-old Phil Hawes remained undefeated by stopping Josh Key at 2:52 of round one. Hawes is now 4-0 as a professional.

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