Undefeated Bulgarian heavyweight Blagoi Ivanov is fighting for his life at Pirogov Hospital in Sofia, Bulgaria, after being stabbed in an early morning altercation Sunday.

According to Bulgarian website Fighter.bg, the 25-year-old sambo world champion was attending the after-party of boxing tournament Strandja at Graf Ignatiev restaurant when a group of eight men armed with guns and knives attacked Ivanov and his two friends. Ivanov was reportedly stabbed below the armpit, with the blade of the knife penetrating his heart.

The Bellator-signed heavyweight was immediately rushed to the hospital, where doctors performed a 6-hour emergency surgery. He is currently on life support and, according to a source with knowledge of the situation, the next 48 hours will be crucial for the young Bulgarian’s survival.

Ivanov’s friends suffered only minor wounds and were quickly discharged from the hospital, according to a report from Novinite.com.

Sofia Metropolitan Police have made several arrests of people who are thought to be involved in the bloody melee.

Ivanov rose to fame in November 2008 when he defeated former Pride heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko in a sambo bout at the 2008 World Sambo Championships in St. Petersburg, Russia. The stocky sambist subsequently signed with Japanese promotion Sengoku and defeated former Pride star Kazuyuki Fujita in his debut.

Most recently, Ivanov stopped former UFC heavyweight champion Ricco Rodriguez in Russia on Christmas Eve. He was scheduled to headline Max Fight 27 in the Bulgarian capital on April 24 against another American challenger.

Follow Tim Leidecker on Twitter at @TimLeidecker or contact him at www.facebook.com/Rossonero1.

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