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Tai Tuivasa vs. Blagoy Ivanov - 6/8/19 UFC 238 Pick, Odds, and Prediction

Tai Tuivasa vs. Blagoy Ivanov
Date & Time Saturday June 8, 2019, 10:00 PM (EDT)
United Center
Chicago, Illinois
The Line
The Line: Tuivasa -167 / Ivanov +153 -- Over/Under:
TV Channel
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Tai Tuivasa and Blagoy Ivanov fight Saturday during UFC 238 at the United Center.

Tai Tuivasa enters this fight with a 8-1 record and has won 88 percent of his fights by knockout. Tuivasa has won five of his last six fights, and he’s coming off a December loss to Junior dos Santos. Tuivasa is averaging 4.42 significant strikes per minute with an accuracy percentage of 42 percent. Tuivasa is averaging zero takedowns with an accuracy percentage of zero percent. Tuivasa is coming off his first career loss when he couldn’t get up off the canvas and was forced to eat heavy shots until the ref stopped the fight. It’s a clear sign that Tuivasa needs to improve his ground game, as he comes from a boxing and kickboxing background and has been able to win all of his fights up to that point standing up. Tuivasa is quite an athlete for a guy his size, and he’s a very powerful striker with heavy hands and violent elbows. Tuivasa throws in a leg kick every now and then, but he closes the distance well and is effective in the clinch as well. The concerns for Tuivasa are the wrestling and the conditioning, as only two of his nine career fights have made it out of the first round. This will be Tuivasa’s second career fight in the United States.

Blagoy Ivanov enters this fight with a 17-2-1 record and has won 35 percent of his fights by knockout. Ivanov has won six of his last seven fights and is coming off a March win over Ben Rothwell. Ivanov is averaging 3.08 significant strikes per minute with an accuracy percentage of 30 percent. Ivanov is averaging zero takedowns with an accuracy percentage of zero percent. Ivanov is coming off a unanimous decision victory, but the fight could have gone either way with the strikes very even and Rothwell actually being more accurate. Either way, Ivanov still has yet to lose back-to-back fights and is throwing himself back in the octagon a couple of months later. 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. However, Ivanov just went toe-to-toe with a bigger and violent striker, so he’s more than capable of holding his own standing up if need be. This will be Ivanov’s first career fight in Illinois.

I’m afraid that Ivanov winning his last fight in a striking battle is going to give him the confidence he can hang with Bam Bam on his feet. Ivanov has a lot greater chance of winning this fight if he uses his ground game and makes Tuivasa uncomfortable. Tuivasa is more athletic, quicker on his feet and with his hands, he’s longer and has the power advantage. If this ends up being another stand up fight where Tuivasa is allowed to get comfortable while backing Ivanov against the cage and unloading, he’s going to win likely by knockout. Ivanov hasn’t produced a takedown on the UFC level through two fights and if that remains the case, I don’t give him much chance against the more polished striker in Tuivasa.

I like Tuivasa to get his bounce back victory.

Tai Tuivasa -167

Randy Chambers has been with Sports Chat Place since 2014 and covers everything from the NFL to WNBA and tennis. Nobody works harder in this business in terms of content produced and amount of sports covered. Formerly a lead college football writer with Bleacher Report and has had his work featured at Fox Sports, CBS Sports and various other outlets.

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