Two heavyweight beasts collide April 22 when third-ranked Sergei Pavlovich (17-1, 5-1 UFC) takes on fourth-ranked Curtis Blaydes (17-3, 12-3 UFC) at UFC Vegas 71.
The five-round main event occurs at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas with prelim fights beginning at 4 p.m. ET and the main card on tap at 8 p.m.
UFC Fight Night: Pavlovich vs Blaydes Betting Odds
Odds as of April 17
Blaydes is back in the favorite column after cashing as a +120 vs Tom Aspinall at UFC Fight Night London in July 2022. His -160 odds assume a 61.54 percent chance of victory, and a $10 bet on Blaydes pays out $16.25.
Pavlovich's +130 odds give him a 43.48 percent implied probability, and a $10 bet on the Russian pays out $23.
Blaydes vs Pavlovich: Who Will Win?
Is this more than a simple wrestler vs striker matchup? Let's find out.
How Blaydes Wins
We've only seen Pavlovich lose one in UFC action, and the loss followed a blueprint Blaydes can easily mirror. When Alistair Overeem beat the Russian by first-round ground-and-pound in 2018, he got his opponent thinking takedown early. Pavlovich seemed especially jumpy as he prepped for the threat of a takedown and that opened up shots to the body and the option for a thai clinch.
Blaydes doesn't have Overeem's power, but he's a smarter wrestler and put Pavlovich on his back. From there, the fight is over. Watch for Blaydes to feint a few takedowns early with the purpose of dropping Pavlovich's hands for some strikes to the head.
"Razor" is best at taking guys down and giving them noogies for 25 minutes, but he's got pop in his hands — certainly enough power to damage Pavlovich. Just ask Chris Daukaus, whom Blaydes folded in the second round at UFC Columbus in March 2022.
How Pavlovich Wins
Sometimes strength just wins out. And, ladies and gentlemen, Pavlovich is the UFC's newest terminator. The 30-year-old has a massive 84-inch reach and uses it to rinse opponents at range. He used that run-and-gun style to knock out both Derrick Lewis and Tai Tuivasa in under one minute.
Derrick Lewis with the massive uppercut KO of Curtis Blaydes! #UFCVegas19 pic.twitter.com/DXivd0KnKV— Kevin Gray Jr. (@KevinGraySports) February 21, 2021
We know Blaydes can be put out. In his fight vs Lewis in 2021, the "Black Beast" bopped him on the chin during a takedown attempt for a spectacular KO. Knees and uppercuts will be Pavlovich's best defense against Blaydes on Saturday, and, with the Russian's power and long limbs, it will only take one strike to end this fight.
Pavlovich vs Blaydes Pick
This bout will wind up being lopsided in one direction. Either Blaydes secures early control time and wins the fight his way, or Pavlovich blasts him and everyone goes home early.
And, right now, I've had a hard time picking against Pavlovich. He's being groomed as a future champion — he served as the backup fighter at UFC 285 — and appears hungrier than Blaydes. Curtis is no slouch, but I'll take Pavlovich to win by KO.