An early knockdown combined with a constant barrage of combinations that found a home on Tuivasa’s chin earned Ivanov the victory with the judges returning scores of 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 all in his favor. The win moved Ivanov to 18-2 with one no contest in his career while notching his second straight victory in the UFC.
“He’s a very tough guy,” Ivanov said about Tuivasa after the war was over. “I watch all his fights and I know he’s good at standup.”
Tuivasa was looking for his signature power punches in the opening round but he didn’t see a counter right hand coming from Ivanov that dropped him to the mat. Ivanov quickly followed up looking for the finish and then switching to guillotine choke when Tuivasa began working his way back to the feet but he couldn’t quite put him away.
The knockdown definitely woke Tuivasa up as he began throwing hammers in response but Ivanov showed no fear trading punches with the former rugby player from Australia.
The second round saw Tuivasa stagger Ivanov with a clubbing blow that sent the Bulgarian fighter stumbling backwards but he refused to go down. Tuivasa attempted to press forward to potentially put him away but he got locked in the clinch, which then allowed Ivanov time to recover.
With less than two minutes remaining in the round, Ivanov and Tuivasa were just colliding into each other like a human demolition derby as both fighters were dealing with depleting gas tanks while still blasting each other with punches.
Despite conditioning fading for each of them, Ivanov and Tuivasa continued to push forward trying to get the better of the exchanges. As time ticked away, Ivanov began working from inside the clinch while Tuivasa was trying desperately to connect with his power punches whenever he got a second to breathe.
The fighters continued slugging it out until the final horn but it was Ivanov’s volume, accuracy and overall cage control that got the better of Tuivasa over all three rounds.
As the heavyweight division continued to search for new contenders, Ivanov has now injected himself into the conversation following back-to-back wins over Tuivasa and Ben Rothwell. As for Tuivasa, the promising heavyweight prospect has now suffered two losses in a row after starting his career with eight straight wins.
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