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8 min read

Curtis Blaydes vs. Sergei Pavlovich In-Depth Look

Possibly a title-eliminator bout, #4 ranked Curtis Blaydes welcomes #3 ranked Sergei Pavlovich to the main event limelight at UFC Fight Night 222 this Saturday, April 22nd in Las Vegas, Nevada. With this matchup comes a lot of important implications for the UFC’s heavyweight division.

Jon Jones is expected to defend his UFC Heavyweight Title against former two-time heavyweight champ and #2 ranked- Stipe Miocic sometime this year, #1 ranked Ciryl Gane was defeated by Jones at UFC 285 for the vacant heavyweight title via. first-round submission so with that leaves only Blaydes and Pavlovich as potential deserving opponents for the winner of Jones/Miocic. The UFC could always opt to have the winner face Gane but I don’t think that’s necessary considering Gane has already had two attempts at the undisputed title in the last 15 months and failed on both. It’s time for some fresh faces to get title opportunities like Blaydes and Pavlovich.

If you don’t want to take my word for it, let the resumes of both Blaydes and Pavlovich speak for themselves.

Sergei Pavlovich

Pavlovich (17-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC) entered the UFC in November of 2018 against veteran and combat sports legend- Alistair Overeem. Overeem defeated Pavlovich via. first-round TKO (ground strikes) following a trip by Overeem. Since the first loss of his career, Pavlovich hasn’t looked back, winning his next five contests by defeating all five in the first round via. KO/TKO.

Pavlovich has defeated impressive opponents as well, Marcelo Golm, Maurice Greene, Shamil Abdurakhimov, Derrick Lewis, and Tai Tuivasa. His most recent win was in December of 2022 against currently #6 ranked- Tuivasa, knocking out “Bam Bam” in the very first round. Out of Pavlovich’s 17 wins, 14 have come by way of KO/TKO, all in the first round, and three decision victories. Pavlovich has gone five rounds once but it was outside of the UFC for the promotion Fight Nights Global. This bout with Blaydes is his first scheduled five-round main event spot for the UFC. Don’t blink early on when Pavlovich fights, he tries to handle his business early.

Curtis Blaydes

Blaydes (17-3-1 NC, 12-3-1 UFC) on the other hand has spent the majority of his career honing his skills and growing right before our very eyes in the UFC, over 75% of Blaydes’ professional bouts have been under the promotion that is the world leader of the sport of MMA.

Blaydes joined the promotion in April 2016, losing by doctor stoppage after the second round in a competitive bout with eventual champion, Francis Ngannou. Following the loss, Blaydes defeated Cody East by TKO in the second round and then had a slight bump in the road by having his dominant and vicious win over Adam Milstead overturned to a no-contest due to a positive test for marijuana by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. The kicker is that it wasn’t even a violation for the UFC’s official anti-doping partner, USADA. Blaydes, not one to be hindered by the no-contest ruling went on to win his next four fights, defeating Daniel Omielanczuk, Alexey Oleynik, Mark Hunt, and Alistair Overeem before losing again to Ngannou by a first-round TKO.

Blaydes answered the loss with yet another four-fight win streak, defeating Justin Willis, Shamil Abdurakhimov, Junior Dos Santos, and Alexander Volkov. It looked like Blaydes was on the cusp of a title opportunity before falling to Derrick Lewis via. a second-round KO. As I mentioned earlier, not one to be deterred long, since the loss Blaydes has won all three of his previous fights, defeating top guys like Jairzinho Rozenstruik, Chris Daukaus, and Blaydes’ most recent fight was against Tom Aspinall in July last year, winning the bout by TKO due to knee injury in the first round. You can’t hold that against Blaydes either.

“Razor” Blaydes has also had some very dominating and vicious performances in the UFC such as the Overeem, Daukaus, Volkov, Dos Santos, and Abdurakhimov victories. Mostly being known as a wrestler, it’s been a joy to watch Blaydes progress as a striker to form himself into one of if not the most well-rounded fighter in the UFC’s heavyweight division. Out of Blaydes’ 17 wins, 12 are KO/TKO victories, three in the first round and five wins came by way of decision, Blaydes is not just a wrestler anymore, he is dangerous on the feet as well. You can hold the Lewis and Ngannou losses if you will but my only argument would be where are they now? Blaydes is in the top five of the division, Ngannou has left the promotion and Lewis is outside of the top ten and ranked eleventh. Blaydes is still there, grinding and looking for his title-shot opportunity. It’s worth noting that this will be Blaydes’ seventh main-event spot in the UFC, going 4-2 in the previous six, “Razor” has only gone five rounds once and that was against Volkov.

What do you make of the current landscape of the UFC’s heavyweight division, do you think the winner of Blaydes vs. Pavlovich deserves the title shot opportunity? Let us know in the comments below.

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