- Curtis Blaydes is the betting favorite at -175.
- Sergei Pavlovich is the betting underdog at +145.
UFC action returns to the APEX Center in Las Vegas this Saturday, April 22, as two ranked heavyweight contenders headline the main event. No. 3-ranked challenger Sergei Pavlovich (17-1) meets the No. 4-ranked contender Curtis Blaydes (17-3) in a pivotal match in the division to determine the next possible title challenger.
Heavyweight headliners clash April 22nd 💪
Your official #UFCVegas71 poster is here! pic.twitter.com/ENjePhIuaI
— UFC (@ufc) March 29, 2023
Both fighters are currently riding their respective winning streak with Pavlovich five straight wins, and Blaydes with three. Despite having fewer consecutive victories, Blaydes is still the slightly favorable fighter to triumph in UFC odds at -175, as Pavlovich takes the underdog role at +145.
Blaydes’ latest win came at the expense of Tom Aspinall in July 2022 during their main event encounter in England. It was an anti-climatic victory for “Razor” because Aspinall suffered a knee injury 15 seconds into the fight, which forced the referee to stop the fight. Regardless of the unfortunate injury, it was still a victory for Blaydes.
On the other hand, Pavlovich has kept his streak of first-round finishes after knocking out Tai Tuivasa in under one minute from their December 2022 match. It was the Russian’s 17th MMA career win and fifth under the UFC. Additionally, the win saw Pavlovich record his 14th stoppage victory, with only three of his wins coming off by decisions.
Sergei Pavlovich Recent Fight Results
Sergei Pavlovich was undefeated and a former AMG Fight Nights promotion heavyweight champion when he was signed by the UFC in 2018. Because of his impressive record, he was immediately pitted against top contender Alistair Overeem for his promotional debut in November 2018, and it was a rough start to Pavlovich’s UFC campaign.
Overeem made the Russian realize that the UFC is on another level of MMA competition as he stopped Pavlovich in the opening round via TKO. That loss was also the American Top Team representative’s first career defeat. After that eye-opening loss, Pavlovich went back to the drawing board and has been undefeated ever since.
In April 2019, he fought Marcelo Golm and folded him in half with a devastating uppercut in the first round to pick up his inaugural victory inside the Octagon. Six months later, in October 2019, Pavlovich quickly added Maurice Greene to his tally of wins after dominating him in the match and eventually got another first-round TKO finish.
These incredible back-to-back victories have primed Pavlovich to climb up the heavyweight rankings and establish himself as a legitimate threat to anyone holding the title. However, an injury and visa issues sidelined him for almost three years. He fell out of the rankings because of inactivity.
Thankfully, in March 2022, Pavlovich finally made his comeback and faced Shamil Abdurakhimov. The 30-year-old performed like he never had time off as he once again displayed his nuclear power to stop Abdurakhimov in the first round. These three rapid finishes for Pavlovich earned him a spot on the main card of UFC 277.
In his pay-per-view debut in July 2022, Pavlovich was matched with former title challenger and feared knockout artist Derrick Lewis in a high-profile fight. Both athletes delivered an action-packed striking bout, but in the end, Pavlovich scored a TKO finish over the “Black Beast” to record another first-round win.
That win over Lewis has made Pavlovich the No. 5-ranked challenger in the division and set him up for a gigantic showdown with Tai Tuivasa, who is also known to knock his opponent out. The Russian mauler once again showed his power by stopping Tuivasa in just 54 seconds of the fight and moved up to the rankings as the third-best challenger.
SERGEI PAVLOVICH STOPS TUIVASA IN UNDER A MINUTE 😱 #UFCOrlando pic.twitter.com/flD5y7lSST
— UFC (@ufc) December 4, 2022
Curtis Blaydes Recent Fight Results
Like Pavlovich, Curtis Blaydes was an undefeated fighter when he joined the UFC in 2016 but was rudely welcomed in his debut match under the Las Vegas-based promotion. Blaydes faced Francis Ngannou in his first fight with the UFC in April 2016 but suffered a second-round doctor’s stoppage loss.
After sustaining his first professional loss, Blaydes went undefeated in his next six fights by winning against Cody East (second-round TKO), Adam Milstead (initially a second-round TKO win that was overturned to a no-contest result as Blaydes failed a drug test), Daniel Omielanczuk (unanimous decision), Alexey Oleynik (second-round TKO), Mark Hunt (unanimous decision), and Alistair Overeem (third-round TKO).
In November 2018, “Razor” was given an opportunity to avenge his loss to Francis Ngannou in a big-time rematch, but Ngannou reasserted his mastery over Blaydes with a first-round TKO finish. Following this second loss to Ngannou, Blaydes went on a four-fight winning streak by beating Justin Willis (unanimous decision), Shamil Abdurakhimov (second-round TKO), Junior dos Santos (second-round TKO), and Alexander Volkov (unanimous decision).
Derrick Lewis halted this streak by knocking out Blaydes in their February 2021 match. Lewis caught Blaydes with a perfect uppercut punch, which ended the bout in the second round. It was Blaydes’ third career MMA loss. Despite this devastating setback, the 32-year-old maintained his top contender status by winning his last three fights against Jairinzho Rozenstruik, Chris Daukaus, and Tom Aspinall.
Tom Aspinall lands a leg kick then falls to the ground in pain, ending the #UFCLondon main event.
Curtis Blaydes wins via TKO. pic.twitter.com/GDJcOmyXHW
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) July 23, 2022
Pavlovich vs. Blaydes: Tale of the Tape
|Sergei Pavlovich||Curtis Blaydes|
|Reach||84 inches||80 inches|
|Leg Reach||45 inches||46 inches|
Pavlovich vs. Blaydes: Fight Analysis
There is not much of a difference in the tale of the tape between Sergei Pavlovich and Curtis Blaydes, except the four inches of reach advantage of the former at 84 inches against the latter’s 80 inches. Both have almost identical numbers in all other categories and are very well in the prime years of their fighting career.
In the striking department, Pavlovich has the better offensive statistics with 8.07 significant strikes landed per minute (51% rate) compared to Blaydes’ 3.54 (51% rate), but Blaydes has the better defensive numbers of absorbing only 1.70 significant strikes per minute (59%) against Pavlovich’s 4.30 (48% rate).
“Razor” also has the advantage in the grappling department with his 6.05 takedown average per 15-minute output (53% rate) versus the Russian’s 0, although the takedown defense percentage of Pavlovich is much better at 66% compared to Blaydes’ 33%. Regardless of this enormous discrepancy in grappling, expect this match to remain on the feet.
Stylistically, Pavlovich and Blaydes are known finishers in the division, but there is a significant difference in how they finish their opponents. Pavlovich is a one-hit knockout specialist who, when he lands, instantly folds, sleeps, or sends his opponents to other dimensions. His favorite technique sees him land a right-hand punch at the very end of his combinations.
Meanwhile, Blaydes’ approach is more on swarming his opposition with multiple strikes to stop them. This doesn’t mean that he has no one strike power, but most of his finishes were courtesy of ground-and-pound. He likes to lure his opponents through exchanges and set up a takedown to mount his opponents and eventually pour down the punches from there.
However, Blaydes has a bad history and stylistic matchup with one-punch knockout artists like Pavlovich, which is evident in his losses to Francis Ngannou (twice) and Derrick Lewis. Additionally, the American has the tendency to backpedal against heavy hitters, something that the Russian must exploit and take advantage of when they share the Octagon this weekend.
Official Prediction: TKO/KO victory for Sergei Pavlovich.
See the entire UFC Fight Night: Pavlovich vs. Blaydes odds and wagers here.
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