UFC Vegas 71: Pavlovich vs Blaydes – Fight prediction

The UFC returns to the Apex in Las Vegas for a fight night card headlined by two heavyweight contenders in Sergei Pavlovich and Curtis Blaydes.

Pavlovich enters on a hugely impressive run of knockout victories among the big men, while Blaydes is still searching for that elusive title shot having never quite managed to get over the line to earn one in the past.

Last week at UFC Kansas City we perfectly predicted a Max Holloway win on the scorecards, moving us to three out of four with two correct picks on main event only picks. Our overall record for full cards stands at 866/1339 (64.68%) with 355 perfect picks (40.99%). You can see our pick history here.

We’ll look to improve on our main event only picks here, as these two behemoths meet in a clash of styles.

Recent fight history

Sergei Pavlovich comes into this bout on an impressive five-fight winning streak, with his last loss coming in his UFC debut when he was knocked out by Alistair Overeem.

He is yet to come out of the first round in his UFC career, with first-round knockout wins over all of Marcelo Golm, Maurice Greene, Shamil Abdurakhimov, Derrick Lewis and Tai Tuivasa.

As for Blaydes, he comes into this fight on a three-fight winning streak with his last defeat coming in that highlight reel knockout loss to “The Black Beast” back in 2021.

Since then he has dominated Jairzinho Rozenstruik to a decision win, before knocking out Chris Daukaus and then earning a win over Tom Aspinall when the Brit injured his knee in the opening seconds of the fight.

Fight styles

In case his record didn’t make it very clear, Pavlovich is a powerhouse of a striker with incredible knockout ability and good boxing.

We’re yet to see his grappling tested in the octagon so it’s hard to know how he fares, but he has got enough power to put people to sleep with just one shot.

His boxing is good with his jab usually setting up a big overhand right, before he launches on his opponents for the finish.

But against Blaydes he will be coming up against arguably the best wrestler in the division, with phenomenal grappling skills to go with his nasty ground and pound elbows as well as his top control.

Pavlovich’s only defeat in the UFC came when he was tripped from a Thai clinch and then couldn’t get back to his feet from under Overeem, but if Blaydes is able to get him down to the mat it certainly raises questions about if he will be able to get back up and away from where “Razor” thrives.

Blaydes has only ever lost to Francis Ngannou (twice) and Lewis, with both guys landing huge one-punch finishes. However his chin has held up excellently in other fights, and this will be a big task for Pavlovich.


There’s no doubting that Pavlovich has earned his spot in this main event, but we cannot ignore the route he took to get here.

He dominated guys he was supposed to dominate, then came up against an ageing and gun-shy Lewis before landing a brawl against the guy with the worst striking defence at the top of the division.

Blaydes is easily the best fighter that he will have ever come up against, and his weaknesses lie exactly where his opponent’s strengths are.

If he is able to survive the initial first-round blitz that will no doubt come, Blaydes should find the takedown easier and easier to come by as the fight goes on.

Expect that he lands big ground and pound before Pavlovich gets back to his feet, and puts an end to the hype train in an emphatic way.

PICK – Curtis Blaydes via Knockout, Round 4


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