Sakai addresses fence grab against Ivanov: ‘It wouldn’t change the result”

The heavyweight Augusto Sakai improved to 4-0 in the UFC with a split decision win over Blagoy Ivanov in the co-main event of UFC on ESPN 9 on Saturday at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas. His win wasn’t without controversy, as aside from the close call on the scorecards, he also got away with a fence grab in the third round that could have changed the complexion of the fight.

Sakai was asked about the foul at the evening’s post-fight presser and he dismissed it’s impact on the fight.

“It was something completely subconscious,” Sakai said through a Portuguese translator. “It was involuntary, I didn’t really plan on it. It’s something I would never do on purpose. It wouldn’t change the result of the fight. I won the fight.”

Two of the judges scored the fight 29-28 in Sakai’s favor, while the third went the other way giving all three rounds to Ivanov. Sakai called the scoring “crazy.” The fight was primarily a stand-up contest with both fighters maintaining a methodical pace throughout.

Sakai entered Saturday’s fight at No. 13 in the UFC’s official heavyweight contender rankings. The former Bellator fighter has now won six straight fights, including knockouts of Marcin Tybura and Chase Sherman. He declined to call out a specific opponent, but sounded eager to prove that he belongs in the top-10.

“I’d really like someone ranked top-10 and whoever is available, I’m ready to go,” Sakai said.

“I really believe I need to keep doing what I just did,” Sakai added when asked about what he thought of the jam at the top caused by the pending Stipe Miocic-Daniel Cormier trilogy. “One step at a time, one fight at a time, and my time will come.”


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