Former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos wasn’t at his best in his return to the Octagon on Saturday night, but he did enough to defeat UFC newcomer Blagoy Ivanov by unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45) in the main event of UFC Boise.
“I’ll be even better for the next one,” dos Santos said in his postfight interview
Dos Santos (19-5) showed flashes in the first two rounds of why he used to have the best striking in the division. He mixed up his kicks and punches and eventually opened a cut over Ivanov’s left eye. There wasn’t much action in the remainder of the fight. Dos Santos kept Ivanov at distance by continuously using his jab.
Ivanov (16-2, one no-contest), a former World Series of Fighting champion, showed a very good chin while absorbing dos Santos’ shots, but he was nothing more than a body to give the Brazilian needed cage time.
This was the dos Santos’ first fight since his loss to former champ Stipe Miocic by first-round TKO at UFC 211. He was flagged by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency in August for small traces of the diuretic hydrochlorothiazide and suspended for six months.
The loss snapped Ivanov’s run of five consecutive victories.
Sage Northcutt knocks out Zak Ottow
Northcutt earned his first win at welterweight after a pair of losses in the class.
“I feel the power in words that you can turn into reality,” Northcutt said after stopping Ottow at 3:13 of the second round. “Just like Conor McGregor says he will knock his opponent out and does, I did tonight.”
Things didn’t begin well for Northcutt, though. Ottow dropped him early in the first round with a sharp right-hand counter and controlled the action while it was on the mat. The fight changed at the end of the first after Northcutt made it back to his feet and fired off combinations to drop Ottow. Northcutt secured a guillotine choke but released it with 10 seconds remaining in the round.
Ottow immediately took Northcutt back down to open Round 2. After Northcutt got back to his feet, he knew he needed to make something happen, or else he would lose again at 170 pounds.
Northcutt popped a jab followed by a left hand and a left hook that sent Ottow wobbling. Northcutt then took him down. Sensing he was in trouble, Ottow tried to grab Northcutt’s ankles for a takedown, but “Super Sage” landed a series of hammerfists and finished off Ottow.
The win is Northcutt’s third consecutive victory. His two previous wins were at lightweight.