Marcin Tybura and Blagoy Ivanov are both looking to stay in the win column at UFC Vegas 68.
The two were initially slated to fight back in 2021 at UFC 260, however, Ivanov was forced to pull out due to injury, prompting Tybura to take a fight against perennial contender Walt Harris, in which he produced a dominant first-round finish. Ivanov would continue to take time off, not returning until his unanimous decision over Marcos Rogerio de Lima, however, Tybura would stay active during this time, snapping his five-fight win streak against top contender Alexander Volkov but returning to win a huge upset against top heavyweight prospect Alexander Romanov.
Tybura returns as a slight favorite for the first time since his bout against Walt Harris.
- Blagoy Ivanov: +105
- Marcin Tybura: -125
Marcin Tybura appears to have more momentum on his side, having won six of his last seven bouts, with every win being a dominant decision or finish over top-tier heavyweights such as Sergey Spivak, Alexander Romanov, and seasoned veteran Ben Rothwell. He has a 66% finish rate but has proven himself to have a more than capable level of cardio, taking fighters like Romanov and Greg Hardy into deep waters at a steady pace for a heavyweight fighter. Tybura’s main concern is his lack of defense in his stand-up, as shown in his losses against Augusto Sakai and Shamil Abdurakhimov where he got clipped by heavy shots without moving his head off the center line or bringing up his guard. However, his win streak following these two losses and his ability to go the distance with a top-tier striker like Alexander Volkov seems to show that these deficits in striking defense have been polished to an extent.
Tybura is also an extremely proficient grappler for the heavyweight division, recently earning his black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. His wins over Greg Hardy and Walt Harris came as a result of his great conditioning and dangerous ground-and-pound skills. As previously mentioned, he was even able to take top prospect Alexander Romanov into deep waters to win a majority decision, out-grappling and wrestling him in many exchanges throughout the fight.
Blagoy Ivanov has seemed to recover well from his 2021 injury as shown by his returning bout against Rogerio de Lima. The Bulgarian had exchanged some heavy shots with the Brazilian, exhausting him into the third round to unleash harsh counters and threaten dangerous submissions against the fence. Ivanov himself was also exhausted towards the end of the bout but showed resounding toughness and grit. He has never been finished in the UFC, despite some difficult wars with powerful strikers like Tai Tuivasa, Derrick Lewis, and Augusto Sakai. On the other hand, however, he has also never pulled off a finish in the UFC, making many of his victories a byproduct of mettle and endurance rather than technical proficiency. This is not to say that Ivanov does not hit hard, however, as there were many moments in his fights where he hurt his opponents with clean right hands and effective dirty boxing in the clinch.
From a statistical standpoint, Tybura seems to have the advantage in every department aside from age, with him being one year older than Ivanov. Aside from that, he sports a four-inch reach advantage and five-inch height advantage, which would likely make it difficult for Ivanov to initiate a clinch as he does in the latter rounds of many of his fights. As well as this, Tybura seems to have an advantage in his grappling and level of conditioning, which favors him towards the second half of the fight.
Ivanov’s success in this fight is contingent on hurting Tybura as early in the fight as possible like Sakai and Abdurakhimov had done to pull a finish. This is unlikely though, as his fights with Derrick Lewis and Rogerio de Lima have shown him to be a bit of a slow starter. Ivanov still has a chance to clip Tybura with a heavy shot, which history dictates would change the pace and course of the fight, however, he also gets hit quite a bit himself.
Prediction and Betting Guide
Although Ivanov still has a very real chance in this fight depending on how well Tybura shows up from a defensive standpoint, the meager odds of +105 would not make it a very worthwhile wager. Ivanov’s only chance to secure a finish in this fight, aside from relying on Tybura to keep his hands down, would be to initiate strikes from within the clinch, however, Tybura has shown himself to be more than capable of putting forward his own offensive wrestling and dirty boxing from the clinch. Ivanov’s toughness and Tybura’s lack of finishes outside of ground and pound make betting on a stoppage unlikely, however, Ivanov has been submitted by Alexander Volkov outside of the UFC, so there is still a possibility to see a finish.
At -125, Tybura is a fairly risky bet on his own but would make a great addition to a parlay. In all likelihood, however, Tybura via decision would be the most effective wager to place.
Pick: Marcin Tybura to win by decision