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Home News The fight didn’t work out: Pavlovic knocked out Blades in the first round at UFC Fight Night 222
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The fight didn’t work out: Pavlovic knocked out Blades in the first round at UFC Fight Night 222

Photo by Unseen Studio on Unsplash

UFC Fight Night 222 may well have been one of the most important fights of Sergei Pavlovic’s career. A triumph against Curtis Blades would practically guarantee him the title of the next heavyweight title challenger and would lead him to the winner of the fight between Jon Jones and Stipe Miocic. The Russian himself understood that very well and talked about it in many interviews before the show. But to realize the importance of the fight does not always mean to approach it as cold-blooded and in perfect condition as possible.

Pavlovic had previously lost to an opponent under very strange circumstances. In November 2018, he was beaten by Alistair Overim in his UFC debut fight. Back then, the fighter was not like himself and lasted only 261 seconds in the octagon before capitulating under a hail of blows from the Dutchman. And although many people at the time attributed his fiasco to problems with fighting and lack of experience, the real reason was different. As Sergei admitted, it was the acclimatization, which prevented him from approaching the fight in the right conditions. Since then, however, he made conclusions and did not make such blunders again.

But while acclimatization difficulties no longer plagued Pavlovic, and nobody suspected him of lack of experience, his ability to compete on equal terms with the best grapplers was still questionable. If only because it was impossible to verify it. His last five fights under his belt lasted about nine minutes and were all fights in the standup division. Now the Russian had to take on one of the strongest wrestlers in the promotion, who had once “laid down” Alexander Volkov himself and also dealt with Alexey Oleynik, Shamil Abdurahimov and the same Overim.

Surely many expected that Blades would try to put Pavlovic on the ground in the first seconds to avoid exchanges in the clinch, each of which could have been his last. However, the American surprised and for two and a half minutes he didn’t even think about takeaways. Curtis fought courageously against Sergey and tried to respond to every lunge of his opponent, although he was noticeably slower than him. The Russian’s jabs regularly “stung” him in the jaw, and the crushing doubles almost sent him to the canvas several times.

Over time, Pavlovic’s hits began to have more and more effect on his opponent. And when Blades nearly collapsed from the jab, he tried to dive to his feet for the first and only time. But the Russian playfully stopped his opponent’s pass and continued to dominate in the clinch. And at the beginning of the fourth minute he broke through to the short range and knocked him down. Six consecutive hits to the chin dropped Curtis to his knees, followed by a chiseled finish. Referee Mark Goddard couldn’t watch long.

Pavlovic took down his sixth consecutive opponent in less than five minutes, making him the second most consecutive knockout victories in UFC history. He’s tied with Don Frye for that number, with only Chuck Liddell (seven) higher. The Russian was extremely respectful and thanked the American for the bright fight, but rushed to demand a fight for the trophy.

“Thank you very much to those who were rooting for me. You have no idea what a great job I’m doing. I work very hard. I hope they give me my bonus this time too. And where’s my belt? Give me my belt… Respect to Curtis Blades… Somebody said he would move me down. Now what? Answer me! No matter how many times I’ve watched the UFC, the cash rewards have always been given to strikers. I can fight, but you don’t get paid for it,” stated Pavlovic.

The UFC granted one of the Russian’s requests immediately after the show and gave him $50,000 for “Performance of the Night” for the fourth time. As for the status of the first contender for the title, the official announcement will have to wait at least until the end of the confrontation between Jones and Miocic. But Pavlovic has made a bid for it.

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