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UFC Boise results: Junior dos Santos rolls by Blagoy Ivanov by unanimous decision

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Boise-Dos Santos vs Ivanov Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Junior dos Santos did everything he needed to do to procure a win after a layoff of more than a year. Then, he made a promise to fans.

“I’ll be even better for the next one,” dos Santos said.

The former UFC heavyweight champion beat Blagoy Ivanov by unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45) in a solid, if unspectacular performance in the UFC Boise main event Saturday night in Idaho. Dos Santos did win every round, but Ivanov showed a very good chin and rocked the Brazilian on several occasions throughout with left hands. It was the first victory for “Cigano” since April 2016 against Ben Rothwell.

Dos Santos opened up a cut on Ivanov’s left eye early in the fight and clearly took the first two rounds. Ivanov rallied in the third with big blows, but that was only after dos Santos did damage to that eye with a right hand, forcing Ivanov to act almost as if he was poked in it. The fourth and fifth rounds were low on activity. But dos Santos did enough with his jab keeping Ivanov honest to win them.

Dos Santos (19-5) has not fought since a title loss to Stipe Miocic at UFC 211 in May 2017. In the latter part of the last year and the beginning of 2018, he was dealing with a failed drug test that he was later cleared for by the USADA after an investigation. Dos Santos, 34, said Saturday that he’d like a trilogy matchup with Miocic next, since they are 1-1 against one another.

Ivanov (16-2, 1 NC) had won five straight coming in and was coming off a run as the World Series of Fighting heavyweight champion. The Bulgaria native is known as one of the toughest, most durable fighters in the division. Ivanov, 31, has a combat sambo victory over Fedor Emelianenko on his résumé. This was his UFC debut.

In the co-main event, Sage Northcutt earned the most impressive win of his still-young career. “Super Sage” beat Zak Ottow by second-round knockout after battling back from a dominant first round by Ottow. The finish came at 3:13 with brutal hammerfists after a combination on the feet rocked Ottow.

Ottow caught Northcutt on the first exchange with a punch and rocked him. He spent almost the entire rest of the round on top position, passing and landing some ground and pound. Northcutt was able to work his way to his feet late in the first and score a flurry, but clearly lost the round.

In the second, Ottow went for another takedown, but Northcutt was fresher and much harder to take down. Northcutt landed big shots on the feet throughout, until the final combination and those hammerfists came.

Northcutt (11-2) has credited his move to Team Alpha Male with his improvements. The Texas native is still a prospect with a high ceiling — a fantastic athlete with a background in karate and wrestling. Northcutt, 22, has now won three in a row and looks like he could be a future force at welterweight, after moving up from lightweight.

Ottow (16-6) has alternated wins and losses going back to his UFC debut in 2016. In his last bout, the Wisconsin native beat Mike Pyle by first-round TKO. Ottow, 31, is known as a sturdy, durable veteran.

Niko Price put himself in the Knockout of the Year discussion. Price put Randy Brown out cold with hammerfists from off his back. Price teed Brown’s chin up by holding his head with his foot in one of the more unique, creative knockouts in recent UFC history. The finish came at 1:09 of the second round.

Price (12-1, 1 NC) has won two straight and his lone career loss came against Vicente Luque. The Florida native appears to be a real problem in the welterweight division moving forward. Price, 28, has four finishes in his four UFC wins and he would have had a fifth if not for a positive marijuana test last year. Brown (10-3), a fellow prospect, has now lost two of three.

Chad Mendes is back like he never left. The former multiple time UFC featherweight title contender finished Myles Jury by TKO at 2:52 of the first round Saturday night in his return after more than two years away serving a USADA suspension.

Brock Lesnar, where you at?!” Mendes joked afterward. “Nah man, I’m just super excited to be back. Anyone in the top-five, give them to me. Let’s go.”

Mendes (18-4) now jumps right back into the mix at 145 pounds. He snapped a two-fight losing streak with the victory. Mendes, 33, has a 9-4 record in the UFC with the losses coming only to Jose Aldo (twice), Conor McGregor and Frankie Edgar. Jury (17-2) had his two-fight winning streak halted.

Also on the main card, Rick Glenn gutted out a split decision over Dennis Bermudez (29-28, 28-29, 29-28). Glenn (21-5-1) has won three of four fights, while Bermudez (16-9) has lost four straight, including the last three by split decision.

In the main card opener, Cat Zingano snapped a three-fight losing streak, beating Marion Reneau by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-26). Afterward, Zingano (10-3) said she and former foe Amanda Nunes, the UFC women’s bantamweight champion, have something to talk about. Zingano beat Nunes in 2014 and said she wants to avenge all her losses as well. Reneau (10-4-1) had her four-fight unbeaten streak broken.

Raoni Barcelos might have made a name for himself in his UFC debut. The former RFA champion finished Kurt Holobaugh by TKO at 1:29 of the third round after a crazy combination of power punches. Barcelos (12-1) is now on a five-fight winning streak and looks to be someone to watch in the featherweight division. Holobaugh (17-5), a former Titan FC champion, had a three-fight winning streak snapped.

Also on the prelims, Alexander Volkanovski beat Darren Elkins by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-280, Said Nurmagomedov defeated Justin Scoggins by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) and Alejandro Perez beat Eddie Wineland by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).

On the early prelims, Mark De La Rosa won by second-round rear-naked choke submission over Elias Garcia, Jessica Aguilar notched her first UFC win over Jodie Esquibel by unanimous decision and Liz Carmouche beat former Invicta flyweight champion Jennifer Maia by unanimous decision.

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