Mark RaimondiESPN staff writer2 minute reading
The UFC has a new heavyweight knockout king.
Sergey Pavlovich stopped Curtis Blaydes via TKO at 3:08 of the first round Saturday in the main event of UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas. Pavlovich has six straight first-round KO/TKO victories, extending his own modern UFC record. He is tied with Dan Frye for second in UFC history behind Chuck Liddell in consecutive KO/TKO stoppages.
According to ESPN Stats and Information Research, Pavlovich averaged 2 minutes, 23 seconds in the Octagon, the shortest of any UFC heavyweight.
“Hey, where’s my belt?” Pavlovic said in his post-fight interview through an interpreter.
A title shot could certainly come next. Coming in, ESPN ranked Pavlovic No. 3 in the heavyweight division and Blades No. 4.
Champion Jon Jones is expected to defend his title against former champion Stipe Miocic later this year, although a date has yet to be set. Pavlovic can line up for the winner, or he can compete against another competitor rather than wait.
The big question surrounding Saturday’s fight is whether Pavlovic can hold off Blaydes’ takedown. Blades is a great wrestler with knockout power of his own. But Pavlovich was quick to respond. Blades didn’t even score a takedown until Pavlovic was hurt by the combination, and that’s when things went downhill.
“Big respect to Curtis Blades,” Pavlovich said. “He’s great. But someone said he was going to take me down easily. Now what are they saying?”
Pavlovic hurt Blades early with an overhand right that knocked him down. Then he closed further. He rocked Blades with a jab and followed up with an uppercut and a big combination. A right hand put Blades down for good, and Pavlovic continued to land punches until referee Mark Goddard stopped the bout.
Pavlovich (18-1) knocked out Tai Tuasa in 54 seconds. The Russian-born fighter lost his UFC debut to Alistair Overeem in 2018, but hasn’t lost since. Pavlovich, 30, is a former heavyweight champion of Russia’s Fight Nights Global promotion.
Blades (17-4, 1 NC) snapped a three-fight winning streak. The Chicago-area native had only previously lost to power punchers Francis Naginno (twice) and Derrick Lewis in his UFC career. Blades, 32, has only lost one pro by KO/TKO.