(And to think this all started with a colorful gi, some little shorts, and a dream.)
It looks like Combat Sambo tournaments might actually lead to career advancement opportunities, after all. Blagoi Ivanov has signed a three-fight deal with Sengoku and will reportedly face former Pride fighter Kazuyuki Fujita in his first fight at Sengoku 9 in August. Ivanov is the guy who made minor waves (more like ripples by the time they reached the U.S.) when he beat Fedor Emelianenko on points in the World Combat Sambo Championships last November. Fujita’s claim to fame is that he once hit Fedor so hard it briefly stunned him. Neither of these accomplishments is enough to make this a truly interesting fight, although Sengoku has got to take what they can get when it comes to heavyweights.
The question is, has Japanese MMA really reached the point where all a heavyweight fight needs is some tenuous link to Fedor? Maybe. I mean, the guy can make us all pay attention to a sparring match with a lightweight that’s only slightly more real than pro wrestling (with worse outfits), but if Sengoku keeps at it this matching up of former Fedor opponents is a game that is going to get old quicker than “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.”
Below, relive Ivanov’s moment in the sun and Fujita’s one good punch. Then decide for yourself which would be more satisfying.