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Sergei Pavlovich shouts ‘where’s my belt’ after flattening Curtis Blaydes by knockout at UFC Vegas 71

UFC Fight Night: Pavlovich v Blaydes Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

The heavyweight division has a serious problem, and his name is Sergei Pavlovich.

The Russian hammer secured his sixth consecutive first-round knockout after blasting Curtis Blaydes with a series of punches that ended the UFC Vegas 71 main event in dramatic fashion.

It was another jaw-dropping performance, with Pavlovich stepping into the pocket and launching a leaping uppercut that snapped Blaydes’ head back as he fell towards the cage. Pavlovich seized on the opening to unleash another barrage of shots, with Blaydes eventually crumbling from the punches at just 3:08 of the opening round.

The win moves Pavlovich to 18-1 in his career, with all six of his UFC wins coming by way of first-round knockouts.

“Hey, where’s my belt?” Pavlovich shouted afterward. “Big respect to Curtis Blaydes, he’s great, but somebody was saying he was going to easily take me down. What are you going to say now?”

That was arguably the biggest storyline heading into Saturday night after Pavlovich struggled on the ground in his only UFC loss to Alistair Overeem back in 2018. Blaydes is arguably the best wrestler at heavyweight currently, but he didn’t really turn to his grappling during the first few exchanges as he looked to test himself on the feet against Pavlovich.

To his credit, Blaydes did land a few solid shots, but Pavlovich fired back with staggering power and blinding speed, especially for a man his size.

Pavlovich then started to establish a jab that stabbed at Blaydes, with each successive shot chipping away at the chin. There were several moments where Blaydes looked wobbled, which eventually led to him making his lone takedown attempt, which Pavlovich easily shrugged off.

From there, Pavlovich bided his time and looked for the opening to land his best punches.

“I was actually ready for the fact that Curtis was going to be much better standing up,” Pavlovich said. “I knew that he was working on his standup. So when he started fighting me, I realized he’s strong, but then he was going to try to take me down. He saw that the takedowns were not going to work and so I figured I’d do my job standing up.”

Pavlovich found that crack in the armor with Blaydes on his back foot and jumped into the right uppercut that connected on target. Realizing Blaydes was hurt, Pavlovich unloaded punches in succession until Blaydes finally fell to the mat, which led to the stoppage.

While a championship was definitely on his mind, Pavlovich was also anxious to call for a bonus following his latest knockout win.

“As far as I was watching the UFC, usually it’s the strikers that knock people out that get the bonuses,” Pavlovich said. “Usually they don’t give it to people that finish on the ground. That’s another finish standing up, that’s another bonus, I think, right?”

The win almost assuredly moves Pavlovich into title contention, although all signs still point toward Jon Jones battling Stipe Miocic in November with heavyweight gold up for grabs.

If that fight is made official, the winner will likely be staring down an eventually fight against Pavlovich, who has suddenly become the most feared contender in the entire division.

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