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Pavlovich vs. Blaydes Could Affect Future of Heavyweight Division

On Saturday night, UFC Fight Night 222 will take place in the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas, Nevada. The main card features some notable names, including Jeremiah Wells taking on Matthew Semelsberger, Bobby Green vs. Jared Gordon, and Brad Tavares vs. Bruno Silva as the co-main event.

But he main event is what everyone will be tuning in for, as it could have massive implications on the heavyweight division down the road. The Russian brawler Sergei Pavlovich (ranked #3 in the division) is taking on wrestler Curtis Blaydes (ranked #4) in one of the most anticipated heavyweight fights of the year thus far.

Heavyweight Brawl (Pavlovich vs. Blaydes)

Vegas currently sees Blaydes as the favorite, who is -180 on the moneyline as opposed to Pavlovich, who is a +140 underdog. Blaydes by KO/TKO is the favored result at -110, with Pavlovich by KO/TKO just behind at +185. Blaydes by submission is well behind at +900, followed by Blaydes by decision at +1000, Pavlovich by decision at +1600, and finally Pavlovich by submission at +2600.

Essentially, Vegas only sees one way in which Pavlovich wins: knockout. That’s not surprising given the Russian’s fighting style. Many have compared his slugging to that of former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou, whose knockout power was feared throughout the division. He has made a similar name for himself and hopes to showcase his abilities Saturday night.

But the best way to neutralize immense striking threats is through wrestling, and Curtis “Razor” Blaydes is well-equipped to do just that. The Illinois-native has the edge in wrestling and grappling over the striking-focused Pavlovich. That usually spells poorly for the latter. Blaydes is no slouch on the feet, though. He’s accumulated numerous knockouts throughout his career, so Pavlovich won’t be able to feel totally within his comfort zone.

Road to the Championship

Regardless of who wins, the winner of this bout will likely earn a shot at the UFC heavyweight championship. The legendary Jon “Bones” Jones took the title this past March and all signs point towards his first defense of the belt being against the greatest heavyweight of all time, Stipe Miocic. That fight is yet to be official, but it may happen sometime this summer.

The winner of Pavlovich-Blaydes is certain to earn a shot at the winner of that championship fight, whether it’s Jones or Miocic. There is a possibility that, should he lose, the UFC gives Jones an immediate rematch with Miocic given his illustrious resume, but Pavlovich or Blaydes should be well on their way to a title shot depending on who takes the decision this Saturday.

The UFC Fight Night will air on ESPN+ on Saturday, April 22, beginning with the preliminary card at 4:00 PM ET, followed by the main card at 7:00 PM ET. The Pavlovich-Blaydes main event will likely take place around 9:00 PM ET.

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