Sergei Pavlovich vs. Curtis Blaydes Odds, Pick & Prediction: Expect a Quick UFC Vegas 71 Main Event (Saturday, Saturday April 22)

Sergei Pavlovich vs. Curtis Blaydes Odds, Pick & Prediction: Expect a Quick UFC Vegas 71 Main Event (Saturday, Saturday April 22) article feature image

Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC heavyweight Curtis Blaydes

  • The UFC Vegas 71 main event on Saturday features heavyweight contenders Sergei Pavlovich vs. Curtis Blaydes.
  • Blaydes is a modest favorite with the latest odds, but he faces a dangerous opponent in hard-hitting Pavlovich.
  • Below, Sean Zerillo breaks down the fight and shares three betting angles for the fight, which rely on a Blaydes victory.

Sergei Pavlovich vs. Curtis Blaydes Odds

Pavlovich Odds
Blaydes Odds
1.5 (+125 / -155)
UFC Apex in Las Vegas
9 p.m. ET
UFC Vegas 71 odds as of Saturday and via DraftKings

On Saturday the UFC returns to the UFC Apex facility in Las Vegas for UFC Vegas 71, which features an important main event in the heavyweight rankings between No. 3 contender Sergei Pavlovich and No. 4 Curtis Blaydes.

With the possibility that Jon Jones and Stipe Miocic battle for the heavyweight title – and then both subsequently retire – Saturday's winner might eventually face Ciryl Gane for a vacant belt.

All of Pavlovich's UFC fights – and 15 of his 18 career bouts – have ended inside five minutes. He enters on a five-fight winning streak and has looked particularly terrifying in his past three wins since returning from a lengthy layoff between October 2019 and March 2022.

Blaydes, meanwhile, enters on a three-fight winning streak with wins in seven of eight bouts, but he has three knockout losses in the UFC – two t0 Francis Ngannou and one t0 Derrick Lewis. Pavlovich figures to test his chin.

Below, I’ll provide my analysis and projections and utilize those factors to bet on the main event for UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs. Pavlovich, which streams entirely on ESPN+ (4 p.m. ET).

Tale of the Tape

Avg. Fight Time2:159:37
Weight (pounds)257 lbs.265 lbs.
Reach (inches)84"80"
Date of birth5/13/19922/18/1991
Sig Strikes Per Min8.073.54
SS Accuracy51%51%
SS Absorbed Per Min4.301.70
SS Defense48%59%
Take Down Avg0.006.05
TD Acc0%53%
TD Def66%33%
Submission Avg0.00.0

While this is Pavlovich's first main event at the UFC level, he has the five-round experience, winning a 25-minute decision to secure the inaugural Fight Nights Global heavyweight title. And he is 3-0 on the scorecards for his career.

Still, Pavlovich hasn't shown the disciplined style to win prolonged minutes – or to have sustained cardio – in his UFC bouts. In recent bouts, Pavlovich blitzes his opponents with a barrage of punches; he has speedy hands, hits very hard, and is technical and accurate in those bursts.

Pavlovich is Ivan Drago in an MMA cage for at least five to seven minutes.

Still, that pressure and recklessness could lead to relatively easy takedown entries for Blaydes, who is likely the best wrestler in the heavyweight division. Unfortunately, Blaydes isn't always reliable in shooting for takedowns – especially in the first round. He prefers to feel out his opponents on the feet, land some leg kicks to weaken their base, and then eventually pursue the grappling.

If Blaydes has fallen in love with his hands and tries to feel out Pavlovich on the feet as he has done in his other fights, that could prove to be a fatal strategic mistake. Blaydes needs to wrestle from the outset and get this fight to the mat – or at least up against the cage – and look to neutralize Pavlovich's boxing range.

Blaydes is an underrated offensive striker, but Pavlovich should have a sizable speed and power advantage in the pocket, and his four-inch reach advantage could prove pivotal as Blaydes dips to grab hold of his legs. Still, outside of his boxing, Pavlovich isn't much of an offensive threat. He doesn't throw a ton of kicks or fire off creative strikes in the clinch; he is a pure boxer with boxer power, fast hands, and terrifyingly crisp combinations for someone his size.

Defensive grappling is Pavlovich's most significant question mark, particularly for this fight. He was dominated on the mat by a kickboxer, Alistair Overeem, in his UFC debut. And looked like a complete fish on his back:

After conditioning Pavlo to expect clinches and knees from level changes. Reem changes level into an overhand, grabbing collar ties off it.
Concerned about the knees Pavlovich makes the mistakes of trying to knee shield while backing up, giving an easy trip to Overeem.

— Feño (Ninja) (@fenoxsky) April 20, 2023

Blaydes isn't a particularly dangerous submission grappler, ground-and-pound specialist, or control artist; he is just very good at taking down heavyweights and winning clinch positions. And he has more cardio than the vast majority of the division, so he can employ that game plan over 25 minutes as his opponents wilt.

If Blaydes can survive the first seven minutes of the fight – because he'll undoubtedly be in danger at the start of each frame since all rounds start on the feet – I expect him to look like an increasingly more significant favorite the longer the fight progresses.

And on top of that, one takedown might be enough for Blaydes to finish, as it was for Overeem. I doubt that will be the case; Pavlovich has had significant time to improve, and Blaydes doesn't pursue the finish like other fighters.

Pavlovich has the majority of the early finishing upside, and I would rate Blaydes' chin below average for the heavyweight division. Beyond that, however, Blaydes holds most of the ways to win this fight on cardio or minutes. He is a justifiable favorite.

Pavlovich should find his best success early and may even land a knockdown or win the first round convincingly on the damage. I suspect you will find a better live price on Blaydes after Round 1 than pre-fight; I would look to jump in live if Blaydes moves closer to a pick'em price or plus money after the first round or two.

I expect Blaydes to take over a minute-winning – with his wrestling – significantly down the stretch, if not secure a positional TKO first after consistently landing mat returns.

After facing a run of people willing to exchange with him – all of whom he knocked out – Pavlovich will finally get his worst possible matchup in the heavyweight division: a tenacious wrestler.

The only question is whether Blaydes will pursue his most optimal game plan from the outset.

Pavlovich vs. Blaydes Pick

I projected Curtis Blaydes as a 62.5% favorite (-167 implied) in this bout, and I don't see value on either side of the moneyline. However, as I mentioned, you can bet on Blaydes live after Round 1 if the number moves closer to a pick'em or plus money price.

If Pavlovich wins this fight, I expect him to do it relatively early. A Same Game Parlay (SGP) at DraftKings with Pavlovich and Under 0.5 Rounds (+600) or Under 1.5 Rounds (+250) is how I would approach betting the underdog. I don't see value in his knockout prop (projected +215, listed +175).

Alternatively, if you want to jump in on Blaydes pre-fight rather than waiting for a live bet, you can bet Blaydes in an SGP with the Over 0.5 Rounds (-110) or Over 1.5 Rounds (+250).

Of the four SGP options I provided, Blaydes and the over 0.5 rounds bet encompasses almost all his win conditions. I would be relatively shocked if Blaydes lands a flash standing knockout on Pavlovich in an early exchange, and he's not some lethal finisher who will wrap up a submission the moment he takes an opponent down. Any finish by Blaydes should take at least a couple of minutes to set up the proper positioning.

Conversely, I do think that Pavlovich wins early – if at all. He either lands something big on Blaydes in the first round or after the second-round restart; otherwise, I expect Blaydes to land takedowns, take over, and eventually win the fight.

You can bet both Blaydes SGP angles – and if you're feeling extra frisky, sprinkle his decision prop too (projected +700, listed +800).

The Picks: SGP – Curtis Blaydes & over 0.5 rounds (-110, 0.5u) at DraftKings | SGP – Curtis Blaydes & over 1.5 Rounds (+250, 0.2u) at DraftKings | Live bet Curtis Blaydes after Round 1

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