Sergei Pavlovich is one of the newest heavyweight stars in the UFC. Yet the Russian needs a win over Curtis “Razor” Blaydes to be considered a legitimate title contender. The main event at UFC Fight Night 222 includes these two monsters, who are expected to bring on a toe-to-toe battle. After suffering a devastating knockout loss against Derrick Lewis, Blaydes had to return to the fundamentals to rebuild his name. The American has won three in a row to put himself back in the conversation for a heavyweight championship. Meanwhile, Pavlovich is on a surge, delivering solid results and having only one loss in his MMA career so far.
#UFCVegas71 headliners Sergei Pavlovich and Curtis Blaydes have weighed in and both cleared 260 pounds for Saturday's key showdown.
— MMA Junkie (@MMAJunkie) April 21, 2023
Pavlovich vs. Blaydes Preview
The Russian is now one of the most spectacular heavyweights and holds third place in the division rankings. His size and build are impressive, and his ring smarts are equally amazing. That’s why he has 17 wins and only one loss in the MMA so far.
Alistair Overeem defeated him in his UFC debut; a ground-and-pound KO after a leg sweep Overeem performed. Since then, Pavlovich has won five consecutive bouts against Marcelo Golm, Maurice Greene, Shamil Aburakhimov, Derrick Lewis, and most recently Tai Tuivasa. It’s remarkable that every one of these clashes ended with a first-round knockout, and that neither of these fighters had the slightest chance against Pavlovich.
We can confidently say that there is probably no man in the UFC who packs a greater punch than this guy. Pavlovich’s weakness, though, is on the mat as he just isn’t that much of a wrestler. We saw him grappling with some guys in less popular organizations, but he didn’t show anything in the UFC.
After losing to Ngannou twice by knockout, the Razor, was knocked out by Derrick Lewis in February 2021. His weak chin reputation precedes him, but when we stop for a moment and think a little bit, who would survive direct hits coming from these two beasts?
After defeating Lewis, Razor went on to beat Jairzinho Rozenstruik, Chris Daukaus, and Tom Aspinal (due to Aspinal’s early injuries). In the past, Blaydes had beaten notable opponents like Junior dos Santos, Alexander Volkov, Alistair Overeem, and many more. While his resume certainly outshines Pavlovich’s, he currently ranks fourth among heavyweights even though he had more success in the organization than the Russian.
While Blaydes is undoubtedly one of the greatest wrestlers in his weight class, his punching power isn’t at the same level as his competitors. Yes, there are plenty of knockouts in his stats but do know that a vast majority of them came following his ground and pound, not in the stand-up.
If Blaydes wants to win, he’ll have to throw Pavlovich on the mat. However, the Russian’s takedown defense has been better in recent fights, and he showed that on several occasions in the recent past. When attacking, the Razor often fails to properly defend himself, revealing his “fragile” chin. Pavlovich only needs to land one solid blow to knock Blaydes and end the fight, because he really has a hammer in his fists. That’s something we expect to see, and predict to happen. Pavlovich’s improvement over the last two years is superb, and even though Blaydes has more experience, we don’t see him winning Saturday’s even. Therefore, our pick is Russian.
Our verdict: Pavlovic wins 6/5 at BetXchange