Curtis Blaydes and Sergei Pavlovich face off tonight in front of an Apex crowd in what most likely is a title eliminator between two of the top heavyweights in the world. The winner will most likely be next in line after Jon Jones and Stipe Miocic square off in July, with some brilliant matchmaking allowing the competitors to naturally see who’s the best fit to face the champion.
The newest of the fighters, Sergei Pavlovich, is one of the biggest mysteries in the Heavyweight Division. He has knocked out both Tai Tuivasa and Derrick Lewis in less than one minute in his last two fights, and has won every single one of his five victories by way of knockout. While that’s extremely impressive, we still haven’t seen him against truly elite competition. The best fighter he faced was Tai Tuivasa, who was coming off a devastating loss to Ciryl Gane that saw his chin get cracked for the second time in his long career. Derrick Lewis also hasn’t been amazing as of late, certainly not being what he used to be.
His opponent, Curtis Blaydes, seems to be on an extreme upturn in his career. After a terrible loss to a younger Derrick Lewis that saw him freeze up on the ground from an uppercut, the esteemed heavyweight has put together a two fight win streak and was looking solid for the little time he had against Tom Aspinall before Aspinall hurt his leg. He’s only ever lost to Francis Ngannou and Derrick Lewis, which is extremely impressive.
Pavlovich has never faced a wrestler to Blaydes’ level, and I fully expect him to use it, knowing the threat Pavlovich is on the feet. We also cannot forget that Blaydes knows how to strike as well. He has five career TKOs/KOs, including a recent win to Chris Daukaus where he put up a striking clinic. Pavlovich is taking a massive step-up in competition that many people are fooled he’s ready for. I expect Blaydes to convincingly win tonight and show the world he’s ready to go for the belt.
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