Sergei Pavlovich cemented his place in the heavyweight title conversation with his quick win over Curtis Blaydes on Saturday at UFC Vegas 71.
Now he’s ready to bide his time and let the chips fall where they may between UFC heavyweight champion Jon Jones and former titleholder Stipe Miocic.
“I’ll rest, I’ll eat, I’ll sleep, I’ll rest some more — I’ll wait,” Pavlovich said through a translator on Saturday at UFC Vegas 71’s post-fight press conference.
Jones and Miocic are expected to meet at some point in 2023 for Jones’ first heavyweight title defense. That fight could come as late as November, according to recent reports, but Pavlovich reiterated that he’s content to sit out until then and wait for his shot at the belt. When asked whether he has a preference in opponent, the Russian slugger demurred, called Jones vs. Miocic a “50-50 toss-up,” and said he doesn’t care who wins.
“I’m not waiting to find somebody [who can test me]. What I want is I want to get my belt,” Pavlovich said. “I want to try and win this belt because this is a dream of mine from when I was a kid, and so I’m working really hard to get to that dream and get that belt.”
Pavlovich, 30, has emerged as one of the breakout talents of the UFC heavyweight division. The towering Russian needed just three minutes to add Curtis Blaydes to his hit-list, knocking the American out with a monster sequence at UFC Vegas 71.
Pavlovich has now racked up six consecutive first-round knockouts since losing his UFC debut to Alistair Overeem in 2018, and he wasn’t surprised that Blaydes opted to stand and trade with him rather than wrestle.
“To be honest, I was preparing for all five rounds, I thought the fight was going to all five rounds. But once I realized that I’m getting him, there was no reason for me to keep the fight going longer,” Pavlovich said.
“When we started the fight, I think he understood that the only way for him to take me down was to go down deep for the double-leg, and the way he’s done that before, he’s actually been sent to a knockout before, he’s been knocked out that way. So he understood there was a lot of danger in that, and that’s why the fight was the way that it was.”
Despite wrestling being his forte, Blaydes ultimately shot just one takedown attempt against Pavlovich.
Once that takedown attempt failed, Pavlovich said he knew it was the beginning of the end.
“That’s what we worked on,” Pavlovich said. “I understood that if he was going to try and go for a shot, and it was basically just going to be met with a brick wall, he’ll start to psychologically crumble — and that’s exactly what we worked on, that’s what we prepared.”