Blagoy Ivanov vs. Ben Rothwell
|Date & Time||Saturday March 9, 2019, 9:00 PM (EST)|
Intrust Bank Arena
The Line: Rothwell +113 / Ivanov -127 -- Over/Under:
Blagoy Ivanov and Ben Rothwell fight Saturday during UFC on ESPN+ 4 at the Intrust Bank Arena.
Blagoy Ivanov enters this fight with a 16-2-1 record and has won 38 percent of his fights by knockout. Ivanov has won five of his last six fights and is coming off a July loss to Junior dos Santos. Ivanov is averaging 2.04 significant strikes per minute with an accuracy percentage of 22 percent. Ivanov is averaging zero takedowns with an accuracy percentage of zero percent. Ivanov lost his UFC debut in an unanimous decision, but he more than he proved himself by going five rounds with a legend and landing 102 strikes in the process. Ivanov is a unique heavyweight who has a background in Sambo, Judo and kickboxing, so he’s far more than your traditional fighter in this division who relies heavily on pure striking power. Ivanov is polished with his wrestling, takedown ability and he has six career submission victories, three via the guillotine choke. Ivanov has striking power, but he can be a bit slow with his hands. It’s what Ivanov can do on the canvas that separates him from a lot of other fighters in this division. This will be Ivanov’s first career fight in Kansas.
Ben Rothwell enters this fight with a 36-10 record and has won 56 percent of his fights by knockout. Rothwell has won five of his last seven fights and is coming off a 2016 loss to Junior dos Santos. Rothwell is averaging 2.97 significant strikes per minute with an accuracy percentage of 43 percent. Rothwell is averaging 1.13 takedowns with an accuracy percentage of 33 percent. Rothwell will fight for the first time in nearly three years, as his bout in UFC 203 was cancelled due to a knee injury and then he was suspended by the USADA after failing a drug test. At now 37 years old and with this much time out of the octagon, there’s no telling what fighter you’re going to get. Despite the question marks, Rothwell is a violent heavyweight who stands at 6’4” and has an 80-inch reach. Rothwell has finished each of his last five victories and earned performance of the night honors in two of his last four fights. Rothwell has pure striking power in his hands and uses his legs well for a big guy. Rothwell also has a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, so he controls the canvas quite well and actually has 13 submission victories. This will be Rothwell’s first career fight in Kansas.
This should be a fun, rare heavyweight fight between two guys who are far more than striking power and knockouts. In fact, one could argue these fighters are at their best when on the ground. I always have a hard time backing fighters who are fresh off an injury or long layoff, and it doesn’t get much longer than the three years Rothwell has been gone. With that said, Rothwell has a massive size and reach advantage over Ivanov, and he has a clear edge in standup striking. Ivanov is too slow with his hands and simply cannot attack this fight out of control if he hopes to survive. There’s a lot of times Ivanov rushes in with combinations, and Rothwell will pick him apart and likely put him to sleep with a clean knockout if he approaches it like that.
I’m worried about rust like everybody is, but remove that from the conversation and this is a fight Rothwell should win. It also helps we're getting plus money with Big Ben, making this pick slightly easier.