Mark RaimondiESPN staff writer2 minutes to read
The UFC has a new heavyweight king of knockouts.
Sergei Pavlovich leveled Curtis Blades via TKO at 3:08 in the first round on Saturday in the main event of UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas. Pavlovich racked up six straight first-round KO/TKO wins, extending his UFC record into the modern era. He is tied for second with Don Frye in the most consecutive KO/TKO stops in UFC history, behind only Chuck Liddell.
Pavlovich averages just two minutes and 23 seconds in the octagon, the shortest ever among UFC heavyweights, according to ESPN Stats & Information Research.
“Hey, where’s my belt?” Pavlovich said through an interpreter in his post-fight interview.
Surely the next title shot could come. Upon its entry, ESPN ranked Blaydes the No. 3 and No. 4 heavyweight in the world.
Champion Jon Jones is expected to next defend his title against former champion Stipe Miocic later this year, although no date has been set yet. Pavlović can be queued for the winner or he can be matched against another competitor instead of waiting.
The big question about Saturday’s fight was whether Pavlovic could stop the Blades’ takedowns. Blaydes is an excellent wrestler with his own knockout power. But Pavlovich quickly answered that. Blaydes didn’t even shoot a takedown until he was hurt by Pavlovich’s combination, and things didn’t fall through until after that.
“Big respect for Curtis Blades,” said Pavlovich. “He’s great. But someone was saying he’d take me easy. What do they say now?”
Pavlovich first hit Blaydes with a right kick that knocked him down. Then close the door for more. Blaydes wiggled a jab and followed it up with a big, big combo. Blades’ right hand put aside for good, and Pavlović followed with punches to the floor until referee Mark Goddard stopped the bout.
Pavlovic (18-1) was knocking out Tai Toivasa in 54 seconds. The Russian-born fighter lost his UFC debut to Alistair Overeem in 2018 but hasn’t lost since. Pavlovich, 30, is the former heavyweight champion of the Fight Nights world promotion in Russia.
Blaydes (17-4, 1 NC) has a snapped three-fight winning streak. The Chicago-area native has only lost to power punchers Francis Ngannou (twice) and Derrick Lewis earlier in his UFC career. Blaydes, 32, lost only as a professional by KO/TKO.
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