Do not rush Blagoi Ivanov

Blagoi Ivanov, the man who defeated Fedor Emelianenko in combat sabmo, has turned to MMA

In the Neil Wain ridden world of heavyweight MMA, any prospect or new comer will create a stir amongst the rabid fan base.

Shane Carwin, Cain Velasquez, and Rex Richards have all gained the attention of the MMA populous due to their size, athletic ability, and prowess in a previous athletic endeavor.

Yesterday, it was reported that another top level heavyweight athlete will cross over into MMA, and this guy has already beaten Fedor Emelianenko.

That’s right, Blagoi Ivanov, the guy who upset Fedor in combat sambo and went on to win the world championship, has finally decided to try his hand at MMA.

It was first announced that life-supported Affliction had signed the prospect as soon as he walked off the mat, but Tom Atencio later ruled out the mat side signing. Instead, he has inked a deal with the SK Absolute, which is responsible for bringing DREAM veterans Alavutdin Gadzhiyev and Artur Oumakhanov over from sambo.

Could Ivanov turn out to be a top level heavyweight? Sure, he could, but like all prospects he needs to be managed properly. SK Absolute boss, Tenshin Matsumoto, is said to already be in talks with both FEG and World Victory Road, with the hopes of tracking down the world’s number one heavyweight fighter.

Since he is being marketed as the man who brought down Fedor, the chances that he will be groomed properly seem dim. Some look at his combat sambo matches against Fedor and think he is ready for MMA.

Not only did he beat the WAMMA champion in November, but he also had a close match with him earlier in the year. The thought process is that since combat sambo is so similar to MMA, he should have no trouble converting. However, the differences may be bigger than people realize.

Let’s look at the scoring system of combat sambo provided by fellow .info site Tournament.info:

4 points are awarded: a) for the throw from Standing position with the attacker’s falling down when his opponent falls on the back; b) for the throw from Standing position without the attacker’s falling down when the opponent falls on his side; c) for 20 second hold-down. (a maximum of 4 points per match can be awarded in this fashion)

2 points are awarded: a) for the throw from Standing position with the attacker’s falling down when the opponent falls on his side; b) for the throw from Standing position without the attacker’s falling down when his opponent falls on the chest, stomach, buttocks, waist or shoulder; c) for the throw without falling down when the opponent, who was on his knees or hands before the throw, falls on the back; d) for over 10 second hold-down; (a maximum of 4 points can be awarded in this fashion) e) for the second warning declared to his opponent.

1 point is awarded: a) for the throw with falling down from Standing position when the opponent falls on his chest, stomach, buttocks, waist or shoulder; b) for the throw with falling down when the opponent, who was on his knees or hands before the throw, falls on his back; c) for the throw without falling down when the opponent, who was on his knees or hands before the throw, falls on his side

As you can see the scoring has very little to do with striking or many other aspects of MMA. In fact, in the match that Ivanov defeated Fedor, he scored with a 4 point throw and then a 4 point hold-down.

Striking and submissions are allowed in combat sambo to basically the same extent as MMA, but they do not have an effect on the scoring. Also, the competitors wear protective gear and the striking is not really near the level of MMA.

So while combat sambo is similar to MMA, prowess in it does not necessarily translate to success in the other. With that being said, Blagoi Ivanov, if matched correctly, could quickly develop into a star MMA fighter, in the mold of Sengoku’s Muhammed Lawal.

At this point in his career tracking down Fedor is not the best idea, and not only because he would lose. Prospects, especially heavyweight ones, should be cherished and helped along so that they can be put into meaningful fights when they have a reasonable shot.

Would you rather see a debuting prospect against a champion or an undefeated up and comer like Shane Carwin vie for the title?

By:  Richard Mann