The UFC returns home to Las Vegas on Saturday for a heavyweight headliner with potential title implications at UFC Fight Night: Pavlovich vs. Blaydes. While these ESPN+ UFC Fight Night events tend to be fairly low-wattage affairs overall, this main event between Sergei Pavlovich and Curtis Blaydes is an interesting matchup of styles that could establish a new contender for the UFC heavyweight belt. We’ll take a look at the UFC odds on Saturday’s Fight Night headliner.
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Curtis Blaydes (17-3, 1 NC) is the favorite here in part because there’s a lot more useful information available on him. He’s been in the UFC since 2016 and has fought almost all the relevant names at heavyweight in that time. His only losses in 16 UFC fights are to recent heavyweight champ Francis Ngannou (twice) and Derrick Lewis. That’s impressive consistency in a division where even the elite sometimes struggle to string wins together.
Sergei Pavlovich (17-1) is still a little bit more of an unknown in some regards. What we’ve seen so far tells us that he’s a big, quick heavyweight with fast hands and plenty of power. The area of his game that will be most important against Blaydes is also the area we know the least about — his wrestling.
Blaydes has developed a wrestling attack that’s tailored for MMA. He gets in close for takedowns without exposing himself in the process, and he maintains solid top pressure while also staying busy with his striking. He’s got the patience to wrestle his way to a decision if he has to, but he can also finish people with ground-and-pound.
Pavlovich’s defensive wrestling hasn’t received much testing in the UFC, where he’s yet to see the second round in six fights. The one time he did get put on his back, by Alistair Overeem, he looked lost. Then again, that was also his first UFC bout, and against the very definition of a savvy, experienced veteran. It’s still his only professional loss, and those often don’t show the best a young fighter has to offer.
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Prop odds for Pavlovich vs. Blaydes
If Pavlovich gets his hands going early, he could be a problem for Blaydes. But chances are he’ll have to stop at least a couple of takedowns (or, failing that, get back to his feet after being taken down), and we don’t yet have a great sense of how his game has progressed in that department. If Pavlovich does win, it will likely be via knockout. He doesn’t have a single submission win to his credit, and a fight that goes all five rounds will likely favor the well-conditioned Blaydes.
Not surprisingly, oddsmakers seem to think that if this fight is going to end inside the distance, it’ll probably do so in the first round. (This also explains the total rounds over/under: ). Heavyweight main events that make it past Round 2 become far more likely to see the scorecards. The added variable here is that we’ve yet to see what Pavlovich even looks like in the second round of a UFC fight, while Blaydes has gone to a decision multiple times in his career, including in one five-rounder that he won.
Like Pavlovich, Blaydes has also never won a pro-MMA fight via submission. And while he can go the distance, there’s less chance that he’ll have to when he has five rounds to work. With the potential for this fight to end at some point in the first two rounds — probably due to strikes — the real question is if those strikes will be landed on the feet, which favors Pavlovich, or on the mat, which favors Blaydes.
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UFC Fight Night: Pavlovich vs. Blaydes event info
- Date: Saturday, April 22
- Location: UFC Apex in Las Vegas
- Broadcast: ESPN+
- Start time: Prelims at 4 p.m. ET; main card at 7 p.m. ET