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Heavyweights Sergei Pavlovich and Curtis Blaydes
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What You Need To Know About Pavlovich vs Blaydes

Take A Closer Look At The Two Heavyweights In The Main Event Of UFC Vegas 71

UFC Fight Night: Pavlovich vs Blaydes is set for this Saturday, April 22, 2023. This Top 5 heavyweight matchup is destined to deliver a show under the UFC APEX lights, as the stakes for both contenders have never been higher.

Curtis Blaydes is ranked fourth in the division and is coming into this bout with a 17-3 record, with two of those losses being to former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou. Sergei Pavlovich is third in the rankings and has only suffered one loss in his career, to veteran striker Alistair Overeem.

Preview Every Fight For This Weekend

It’s safe to say that these competitors have two of the most impressive resumes in the division, and this weekend will solidify their fate as they both chase a world championship.

Let’s look at how these combatants got to this moment and just how important a win could mean.

Sergei Pavlovich’s Last Three Fights

Sergei Pavlovich of Russia reacts after his TKO victory over Tai Tuivasa of Australia in a heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at Amway Center on December 03, 2022 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Sergei Pavlovich of Russia reacts after his TKO victory over Tai Tuivasa of Australia in a heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at Amway Center on December 03, 2022 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Sergei Pavlovich is on a five-fight winning streak with five first-round knockouts. Let’s recap his most recent run to get us ready for Saturday.  

Tai Tuivasa vs Sergei Pavlovich | UFC Fight Night: Thompson vs Holland

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Sergei Pavlovich of Russia punches Tai Tuivasa of Australia in a heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at Amway Center on December 03, 2022 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Sergei Pavlovich of Russia punches Tai Tuivasa of Australia in a heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at Amway Center on December 03, 2022 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)


This bout only lasted a total of 54 seconds. The favored Russian came out guns blazing and started throwing crisp jabs just seconds into the match. A quick one-two sent Tuivasa to the canvas and he was never able to fully gain back his control. The Australian tried to swing back, but then Sergei made him pay by putting on a boxing workshop with his power and precision. This impressive performance earned Pavlovich Performance of the Night honors.

Derrick Lewis vs Sergei Pavlovich | UFC 277: Peña vs Nunes 2

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Sergei Pavlovich of Russia reacts after defeating Derrick Lewis in a heavyweight fight during the UFC 277 event at American Airlines Center on July 30, 2022 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Sergei Pavlovich of Russia reacts after defeating Derrick Lewis in a heavyweight fight during the UFC 277 event at American Airlines Center on July 30, 2022 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)


A controversial stoppage made Derrick Lewis the Russian’s fourth first-round knockout victim in a row. The 265ers wasted no time putting on an entertaining bout, with both trading punches. Pavlovich threw a right hand that made Lewis unstable and forced him back to the cage. A few uppercuts later, and “The Black Beast” couldn’t find his footing. Attempting to get up, the referee decided it was enough and called the bout 55 seconds in.

Shamil Abdurakhimov vs Sergei Pavlovich | UFC Fight Night: Volkov vs Aspinall

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Sergei Pavlovich of Russia punches Shamil Abdurakhimov of Russia in a heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at O2 Arena on March 19, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Sergei Pavlovich of Russia punches Shamil Abdurakhimov of Russia in a heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at O2 Arena on March 19, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

It was Russia vs Russia in this London bout, with the No. 10-ranked Abdurakhimov the only person to take Pavlovich past three minutes in the Octagon. The first few minutes passed as both fighters stayed cautious, trying not to expose themselves too early. Ready for some action, they started trading punches and got the momentum going. Pavlovich faked out his counterpart with a deceiving uppercut that was a jolt to the chin. A few hammerfists on the ground followed and helped Pavlovich make a statement with his return to the Octagon. Michael Bisping said, “The punching power of Pavlovich is ridiculous.”

Curtis Blaydes’ Last Three Fights

Curtis Blaydes poses for a portrait after his victory during the UFC Fight Night event at O2 Arena on July 23, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC)

Curtis Blaydes poses for a portrait after his victory during the UFC Fight Night event at O2 Arena on July 23, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC)


Curtis Blaydes has headlined in five out of his last six fights and is on a three-fight winning streak. Let’s refresh our memory on those most recent battles.

Curtis Blaydes vs Tom Aspinall | UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs Aspinall

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Curtis Blaydes punches Tom Aspinall of England in a heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at O2 Arena on July 23, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Curtis Blaydes punches Tom Aspinall of England in a heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at O2 Arena on July 23, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

This main event bout was one of the most anticipated fight nights of the year. Blaydes had solidified himself in the top five but was still considered the underdog compared to the powerful Tom Aspinall who came into the bout 5-0 in the UFC and 12-2 overall. Both fighters came out swinging in Aspinall’s attempt to push the action, and it looked like the main event was going to live up to its hype. The UK native threw a leg kick, took a step back and, due to an unfortunate mishap, dropped to the mat grabbing his knee. The fight-ending injury was an outcome not desired by either fighter, but Blaydes won the bout by TKO at 15 seconds of the first round.  

Curtis Blaydes vs Chris Daukaus | UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs Daukaus

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Curtis Blaydes punches Chris Daukaus in a heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at Nationwide Arena on March 26, 2022 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

Curtis Blaydes punches Chris Daukaus in a heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at Nationwide Arena on March 26, 2022 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)


From the sold-out Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, this Chicago vs Philly matchup was a big one. Both competitors landed some big right hands in the first round, but early on, you could tell something was different about Blaydes’ approach. His strikes affected Daukaus early on, and in the second, Daukaus was prepared for the takedown, but this error left himself wide open and Blaydes threw a beautiful right hand down the middle and the 6’2” heavyweight fell face forward. Coming into the bout, Curtis felt that he had been overlooked in the division. This monumental knockout win was the statement he needed to get his name in the title conversation.

Curtis Blaydes vs Jairzinho Rozenstruik | UFC 266: Volkanovski vs Ortega

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Curtis Blaydes takes down Jairzinho Rozenstruik of Suriname in their heavyweight fight during the UFC 266 event on September 25, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Curtis Blaydes takes down Jairzinho Rozenstruik of Suriname in their heavyweight fight during the UFC 266 event on September 25, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)


This main card bout went the distance, but Blaydes had complete control the whole time. The only notable damage from Rozenstruik was in the second round, when he sent a left knee to Blaydes’ right eye that was completely shut by the start of the third round. Knowing that his vision was skewed, the Chicago native didn’t want to take any chances getting knocked out, so he took down Rozenstruik to avoid the standup game. The then No-6-ranked heavyweight couldn’t defend it and Blaydes won with 104 total strikes and 6:21 minutes of ground control compared to Rozenstruik’s 0:00.

What’s At Stake?

With a victory, the winner could secure a title shot against newly-crowned champ Jon Jones. Considering they are two of the best heavyweights in the world with some of the most impressive highlight reels in the division, adding another win at such an important time could be the perfect formula to earning a chance to fight Jones.

If Sergei Pavlovich were to win, this would be his sixth straight win and would make his overall record 18-1.

If Curtis Blaydes were to prevail, he would be on a four-fight winning streak and move his overall record to 18-4.

How to Watch

The Main Card begins at 7pm/4pm ET/PT, and the Prelims start at 4pm/1pm ET/PT. You can watch on ESPN, ESPN+ or UFC Fight Pass!

UFC Fight Night: Pavlovich vs Blaydes took place live from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas on April 22, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass