It appears that one of the top heavyweight fighters outside the UFC is outside no longer. Rumors have been circulating for some time that unbeaten Russian heavyweight sensation Sergey Pavlovich had made the jump from Fight Nights Global to the world’s largest mixed martial arts promotion. Now it seems that he has a debut date, and it comes against a highly notable opponent.
MMA reporter Farah Hannoun announced, via Twitter, that Pavlovich will get his first chance to make a mark in the Octagon on November 24th in Beijing, China at UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs. Ngannou 2. There, he’ll be taking on former Strikeforce champion and UFC title contender Alistair Overeem.
Overeem (43-17, 1 NC) enters the bout riding a two fight losing streak, with both losses coming by way of stunning KO. ‘The Reem’ was most recently on the receiving end of a brutal sequence of elbows from Curtis Blaydes – set to headline this event – that rendered him unconscious midway through the 3rd round of their UFC 225 contest. Before that, he found himself on the wrong end of what many consider to be 2017’s KO of the year. A soul-tearing uppercut from Francis Ngannou that sent the Duchman astral-travelling at UFC 218.
Despite those recent losses, however, Overeem still represents a massive step up in competition for Pavlovich. The 26-year-old will step into the Octagon with an impressive 12-0, unbeaten record. And while that includes strong wins over fellow unbeaten prospects and seasoned veterans alike, no one on he’s faced in the cage carries the Elevation Fight Team athlete’s combination of experience and elite level success.
For his part Pavlovich has a serious Greco Roman wrestling base, having transitioned to MMA just back in 2014. All of his stoppage wins have come via strikes inside the first round – with 9 KOs in 12 fights. It is notable, however, that whenever he’s taken a step up against veteran competition (or fellow top prospect Mikhail Mokhnatkin) that he’s been forced to go the distance, even in winning efforts. That’s likely largely due to his somewhat cautious, one-punch-at-a-time striking style, coupled with a slamming takedown game that emphasizes quick offensive bursts rather than prolonged dominance.
That all could make for a difficult fight against Overeem. The longtime veteran isn’t known for having the world’s greatest chin, but if Pavlovich can’t put him away quickly it may become a battle of skill and experience instead.
UFC Beijing is just over a month away. The card is expected to be headlined by the heavyweight rematch between Curtis Blaydes and Francis N’Gannou, with bouts for Chinese standouts Xiaonan Yan, Weili Zhang, and Yadong Song scheduled as well. Stay tuned to Bloody Elbow for more news and updates as the event approaches.