Should either Jon Jones or Ciryl Gane fail to make it to Saturday’s UFC 285 main event, another surging heavyweight star will be on site ready to fill the gap.
Sergei Pavlovich, the thunder-fisted Russian striker, has been tapped as the stand-by fighter for the bout to contest the vacant heavyweight strap inside the T-Mobile Arena, in what is Jones’ first fight in the cage in more than three years — and his first at heavyweight. This follows a report by UFC broadcast partner ESPN, who cited contact with Pavlovich’s management team, and comes after Dana White confirmed to the media, including The Mac Life, last weekend that a backup fighter would be appointed to the fight, though he failed to identify who exactly.
Pavlovich, 30, is coming off five successive first-round finishes in the octagon. He was most recently seen in December handing a KO loss to Tai Tuivasa less than 60 seconds into their fight in Orlando, Florida. 14 of the Russian’s 17 career wins have come by knockout. He has seen a second round just three times in his 18-fight career.
Pavlovich will be required to make weight on Friday ahead of the fight. He weighed in at 255-pounds ahead of the Tuivasa fight last year, some 11 pounds lower than the the non-title heavyweight limit.
Interestingly, Pavlovich does presently have a fight booked as he is scheduled to fight fellow contender Curtis Blaydes in April — though one wonders if that might change if the stars align for him to win the UFC heavyweight title in just a few days’ time.