While it may seem like a big test for a debuting heavyweight, Ivanov couldn’t be happier with the opportunity to face one of his most revered peers. And that’s not all too surprising when you know the Bulgarian has beaten Fedor Emelianenko in his field of expertise, sambo, and has also survived a life-threatening stabbing.
The former WSOF champion boasts a five-fight win streak coming into his promotional debut and is adamant that he will prove himself as one of the best his weight class has to offer under the new banner.
“I’m very happy I’m part of the UFC organization. The best fighters in the world are here and I’m one of them,” Ivanov told MMA Fighting. “I’m glad the UFC have faith [in] me and give me this opportunity to fight one of the greatest heavyweight champions in the history of the promotion, Junior dos Santos.”
“Baga” scoffed at the suggestion that dos Santos was one of the more difficult challenges he could have got in his first UFC outing.
“I’m actually happy to be able to fight Junior dos Santos,” he said. “I think I’m ready for fight like this. No matter what anyone else is thinking, I’m ready for this fight. Turn your television on July 14 and you will see too.”
Although he wouldn’t get into specifics, Ivanov is confident that he will stop dos Santos. He claims he has identified a hole in the Brazilian’s game, but wouldn’t divulge what it was.
“Everyone has weaknesses and I already know his, but that’s something I can’t really talk about right now,” he said. “Put it this way, I really can’t see this fight going the full five rounds, and after victory over dos Santos, I will be one step closer to the UFC’s heavyweight title.”
“I will be happy to fight him again,” Ivanov said.
(Editor’s note: Quotes in this article have been edited for clarity and concision.)