Over the past year, the UFC heavyweight division has undergone significant changes. Francis Ngannou is no longer a UFC fighter, having left after achieving great success in the promotion and winning the world title. In his place, Sergei Pavlovich has emerged as a formidable force in the division, winning six fights in just half the time it took Ngannou to achieve the same.
Last weekend, Pavlovich proved his mettle against top contender Curtis Blaydes, securing a TKO victory in just eight seconds over the three-minute mark. As a result, Pavlovich has now taken the second spot in the official UFC rankings, placing him just one position above former champion Stipe Miocic.
However, heavyweight great Daniel Cormier believes that Pavlovich should wait for his title shot, considering his impressive victory against Blaydes. Cormier advises that Pavlovich should remain as an alternate and wait for the opportunity to fight Jones for the belt, since Jones is focusing on fighting Miocic next.
Jones’ victory included the previously mentioned Pavlovich as a surprise backup, who ultimately secured two paydays due to his willingness to wait and eventual win against Blaydes. Pavlovich has only been beaten once in his 18-fight career, with questions arising on whether he can handle strong wrestlers. However, he showed his ability to an extent in the fight against Blaydes, where he was not allowed to set up or shoot for the number of takedowns most might have expected.
Cormier was thoroughly impressed with the progress he’s seen from Pavlovich over the years, watching him grow up from when he was just a boy in AKA. He acknowledged that Pavlovich is no longer the same fighter who lost to Alistair Overeem and would be the chosen one for Jones in case Miocic doesn’t work out.
After the announcement of the UFC 290 date during International Fight Week with Jones vs. Miocic as the target matchup, sour feelings arose from Ngannou’s team as negotiations are ongoing. Although Ngannou left UFC, Chatri Sityodtong confirmed that there are talks with him, albeit warning that Ngannou would have a difficult time at ONE Championship.
Lastly, UFC Vegas 72 is taking place this weekend with a highly anticipated face-off between Luke Rockhold and Mike Perry.