After a second straight loss at UFC Saudi Arabia, what’s next for Sergei Pavlovich?

This past Saturday in the co-main event of UFC Saudi Arabia, we saw a big time matchup in the heavyweight division. Former interim title challenger Sergei Pavlovich (18-3) was looking to bounce back after his title loss to Tom Aspinall as he took on fellow Russian and former training partner Alexander Volkov (38-10).

Entering this bout, I was really curious to see how Pavlovich would look. When you have vicious knockout artists who are running through opponents, you really wonder how they’ll bounce back after a tough loss. Francis Ngannou was starching everyone until he ran into Stipe Miocic in their first fight.

Following that humbling defeat, Ngannou put on his worst performance of his career in a stinker against Derrick Lewis where he was extremely gun shy. I was wondering if the same thing would happen with Pavlovich. Of course, Volkov is a very tricky opponent and you knew he wouldn’t make things easy at UFC Saudi Arabia.

From the opening minutes, you could see that Pavlovich was going to struggle. He was getting chewed up by a vicious long jab from Volkov and he just couldn’t get inside. When he did, the shots didn’t come with a ton of speed and they felt flat watching it live. He just didn’t look nearly as sharp. Of course, you have to credit Volkov with assisting in making him look so bad.

At the end of the third round at UFC Saudi Arabia, Volkov looked like he had just gone on a jog while Pavlovich was bloodied and bruised. A frustrated Pavlovich pushed his former training partner following the final bell and that summed up his night. Volkov won a lopsided decision to put himself in title contention while Pavlovich has now lost two in a row.

What’s next after UFC Saudi Arabia?

Sergei Pavlovich had won six straight fights by first round knockout including wins over Curtis Blaydes, Derrick Lewis, and Tai Tuivasa. However, he’s now lost two fights in a row in dominating fashion yet in different ways. He was knocked out cold by Tom Aspinall in the first round and then he was just completely picked apart for three rounds on Saturday by Alexander Volkov.

Once Pavlovich heals up, he really needs a big performance the next time he goes out there. So, who should the UFC pair him with whenever he’s ready to return? The match making gets a little tricky especially considering he’s fought a lot of the guys that make sense for him.

Marcin Tybura and Serghei Spivac are rematching in August and they are currently ranked 8th and 9th in the heavyweight division. Whoever wins that matchup could be a very good next opponent for Pavlovich. I’m also looking at Jairzinho Rozenstruik as a potential next opponent. Rozenstruik is fighting Tai Tuivasa at UFC 305, but should he win, that could be a fun matchup for Pavlovich.

If you go a little further back in the rankings, Marcos Rogerio de Lima could be an option. The UFC could always run it back with Derrick Lewis despite Pavlovich already holding a first round knockout win over him. There are definitely some options there for the entertaining Russian heavyweight.

Mentioned in this article:

More about: