The UFC heavyweight division has seen some dramatic changes over the past year.
Francis Ngannou is no longer a part of the UFC knocking opponents out left and right en route to the world title. As a consolation, Sergei Pavlovich has done so in half the time “The Predator” did in their first six octagon victories comparatively.
Russia’s Pavlovich scored his biggest win to date in the main event of UFC Vegas 71 this past weekend. Tasked with perennial top contender Curtis Blaydes, Pavlovich ran through the impressive wrestler, securing the win by TKO just eight seconds over the three-minute mark. With the win, Pavlovich is now ranked at No. 2 in the official UFC rankings — one spot above Stipe Miocic — and only looking up. Former heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier believes it's time for his old training partner to wait things out until getting his well-earned title shot.
“I weigh in, and I sit there as an alternate [if I’m Pavlovich],” Cormier said on DC & RC. “I don’t know if I fight again because against Ciryl Gane, nobody knew it, but he was the alternate. So he sat there, made the weight, and then when Jon [Jones] and Ciryl fought, he was just out. But he got paid some money. You don’t wanna risk letting your money dry up. You still get paid along the journey while you still may get an opportunity to fight the champion.
“Here’s the thing about those backup fighters. In most cases, especially at heavyweight, if he’s scheduled to fight as a backup, and Stipe and Jon are fighting, if Jones falls out, the fight will be off. If Miocic falls out then they will just slide him in, so he’s not gonna fight Stipe for the belt. He would fight Jones for the belt, so he could prepare as if he’s getting ready to fight Jon Jones and have himself ready to fight him in case he gets the call.”
The recently minted champion Jones has made his next desire clear and that’s a showdown with all-time great heavyweight Miocic. Despite the matchup falling out of reach for the originally targeted UFC 290 date during International Fight Week, all signs are still pointing to the promotion pairing the legends.
In Jones’ bout against Gane to win the title at UFC 285 last month, Pavlovich was the surprise backup as mentioned by Cormier. Ultimately, it led the 30-year-old knockout artist to get two nice paydays thanks to his willingness and eventual decimation of Blaydes.
“I would do that because anything else now would be fighting backward,” Cormier said. “Even fighting Stipe would be fighting backward for Sergei Pavlovich, and I don’t know if right now he needs to do that.”
Pavlovich has been a brute force in his 18-fight career thus far. Only tasting defeat once, his biggest question mark has been surrounding if he can handle a strong wrestler, which he showed to an extent opposite Blaydes. “Razor” wasn’t allowed to set up or shoot for the number of takedowns many may have expected, but he was ultimately stifled when he did. Cormier couldn’t be more impressed to see the growth of the surging big man he watched grow up early on.
“I knew him when he was a little boy,” Cormier said. “He was a little boy when he was back at AKA (American Kickboxing Academy) in the day, but not no more. He is a grown man and he has heavyweight power that can put you out. This is not the same guy that lost to [Alistair] Overeem.
“If not for Stipe Miocic, we would not be questioning who is next for Jon Jones anymore. It would be this guy.”
Banter. Luke Rockhold, Mike Perry get heated in fiery BKFC 41 face-to-face: “You’re the booger man now!”
Hurdles. Israel Adesanya reveals injury suffered before UFC 287, blasts Dricus du Plessis: “I’m going to torture this guy.”
Bummer. Deiveson Figueiredo out of UFC 290 fight with Manel Kape, still not medically cleared to compete.
Negotiations. Chatri Sityodtong confirms Francis Ngannou talks, warns “he’ll have a tough time” in ONE Championship.
Dream. Max Holloway reveals the MMA fight he wants most before he retires.
Shenanigans. Michael Bisping reacts to Nate Diaz brawl: “The man is almost 40 years old for crying out loud.”
Cash Grab. Floyd Mayweather to fight John Gotti III in boxing exhibition bout on June 11.
$$$. Gervonta Davis vs. Ryan Garcia sells more than 1.2 million pay-per-view buys.
The MMA Hour.
UFC Vegas 72 promo.
Wonderboy + MVP.
The Curious Case of Sage Northcutt.
Volk and Jones.
No Bets Barred. MMA Fighting’s Jed Meshew and Conner Burks talk Song Yadong or Ricky Simon — which bantamweight prospect rises at UFC Vegas 72?
SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
Feeling cute pic.twitter.com/z9eL83GHSK— Pannie Kianzad UFC (@PannieKianzad) April 26, 2023
They said "Sean you're going to be waiting for a long time for a top 6+ guy to open up or we will pay you a lot of money to fight this guy"— Sean Strickland (@SStricklandMMA) April 23, 2023
sooo here we are, I just bought a new motorcycle and I'd like another one... thinking a sport bike if anyone has a hook up?!?! https://t.co/KaVMhWHyuK
Keeping up with the Usmans.
Had a wonderful and successful weekend in Vegas with the family pic.twitter.com/4NX21zv1I3— KAMARU USMAN (@USMAN84kg) April 26, 2023
Sauna grind with @markdcoleman to celebrate 2 years of his sobriety. He’s battled through more then he’ll ever say out loud to everyone. Proud of the man. Once a warrior always a warrior. pic.twitter.com/LEFbtQJJwC— Matt Brown (@IamTheImmortal) April 26, 2023
April 27, 2023
❤️ I love this game.— Israel Adesanya (@stylebender) April 26, 2023
Nothing compares on this planet, in this life than putting it all on the line. One shot, the whole world watching…waiting…then BOOM!! HISSTORY.
Our individual legends will always be intertwined because of the stories we’ve told with our… pic.twitter.com/SAuRf2SzSo
Epic finish @combate commentary— Bellator MMA (@BellatorMMA) April 26, 2023
Listen to this live reaction of @TeamMixMMA's one million dollar knee from Brazilian commentator @RhoodesLima #Bellator295 x #BellatorBWGP pic.twitter.com/DwvSG62w7K
Strike a pose.
Your stars of the #UFCVegas72 show— UFC (@ufc) April 26, 2023
[ Saturday | Main Card 7pmET | LIVE on @ESPNPlus ] pic.twitter.com/a8LlUyZ5Ap
This clown @Daico_Deiveson gave an interview saying that he was ready to fight in July, he signs the contract and then talks to the doctor asking if he can fight? He should talk to the doctor first and then sign.— マネル・ケイプ Manel Kape (@ManelKape) April 27, 2023
Bontorin,Alex Perez now This fake champion pull out ?
The truth is that he's fat, weak and old. He started training and felt it's not the same, so he ran from the fight. @danawhite @Mickmaynard2 @AliAbdelaziz00 please do something, I can’t stand these losers anymore.— マネル・ケイプ Manel Kape (@ManelKape) April 27, 2023
Marcus McGhee (6-1) vs. Journey Newson (10-4, 1 NC); UFC Vegas 72, April 29
Brendan Loughnane (27-4) vs. Jesus Pinedo (20-6-1); 2023 PFL 4, June 8
Robert Wilkinson (18-2) vs. Will Fleury (12-3); 2023 PFL 4, June 8
Thiago Santos (22-12) vs. Mohammad Fakhreddine (15-5); 2023 PFL 4, June 8
Movlid Khaybulaev (20-0-1) vs. Daniel Torres (14-6); 2023 PFL 4, June 8
Marthin Hamlet (11-4) vs. Sam Kei (8-7); 2023 PFL 4, June 8
Joshua Silveria (10-1) vs. Delan Monte (9-4); 2023 PFL 4, June 8
Bubba Jenkins (20-6) vs. Jo Sungbin (10-2); 2023 PFL 4, June 8
Krzysztof Jotko (24-7) vs. Ty Flores (12-4); 2023 PFL 4, June 8
Alejandro Flores (22-4) vs. Marlon Moraes (23-12-1); 2023 PFL 4, June 8
Chris Wade (22-9) vs. Ryoji Kudo (11-5-1); 2023 PFL 4, June 8
Yazmín Jáuregui (10-0) vs Denise Gomes (7-2); UFC Jacksonville, June 24
Missing out on Francis Ngannou vs. either Jones or Pavlovich really sucks.
Thanks for reading!
Who wins this weekend?
This poll is closed
If you find something you’d like to see in the Morning Report, hit up @DrakeRiggs_ on Twitter and let him know about it. Also, follow MMAFighting on Instagram and like us on Facebook.