Fighting for the (interim) heavy championship of the world in Madison Square Garden, Tom Aspinall, 30, takes on Sergei Pavlovich, 31. Along with both men being without a nickname, they also share a much more impressive stat: only one loss each in the UFC.
Aspinall is 6-1 with six finishes, all but one of which came in the first round. Meanwhile, Pavlovich is also 6-1 with all six wins coming in the first round. Both men are exceptionally talented and dangerous; this should be a great one!
- How to watch: Watch every fight live this weekend on ESPN+
- How to bet: Sign up to BetUS and get a special welcome bonus worth up to $2,500.
Aspinall vs Pavlovich betting odds
Aspinall briefly opened as the underdog but was quickly flipped to the favorite.
Special Offer: Sign up to BetUS today and get an exclusive sign-up offer worth up to $2,500
Aspinall vs Pavlovich breakdown
Aspinall might just be the next British UFC champion. Much like Bisping, Aspinall will have to overcome the obstacles a short-notice opportunity presents. But, listening to his interviews and seeing what he’s done so far in the UFC, even after a gruesome leg injury, there is no reason to doubt the #4 heavyweight on the roster. He should be prepared to showcase the best version of himself on Saturday night.
That version of Aspinall is a technically sound, athletically gifted, and dangerously powerful boxer who uses a mix of footwork, precise combinations, and raw power to end fights and end them quickly. Also, being one of the “new breeds” of MMA heavyweights, Aspinall isn’t just a power puncher. He has a full arsenal of weapons and skills that he can turn to at any point in the fight. He is quick, athletic, light footed, a gifted wrestler, and a slick submission practitioner. No matter where the fight goes, Aspinall has the experience, technical fundamentals, and natural gifts to dominate.
Some have coined him “Russian Francis” because, much like Ngannou, the power that Pavlovich has in the octagon is unlike the power anyone else has. It’s as simple as that. The damage this man can do when wearing 4oz gloves is truly special and unmatched. He lost his UFC debut but rebounded with 6 straight 1st round finishes and hasn’t really been in any significant danger since his loss.
Pavlovich has enormous arms, both in terms of length and size, which he uses to keep opponents at bay while he looks to unload the perfect shot and end the fight quickly. While he can have lower volume at times, rarely using feints or jabs to set up his strikes, when he does go, Pavlovich will throw in combinations, all of the strikes coming toward his opponent with devastating power. If even one lands, it’s lights out.
Aspinall vs Pavlovich prediction
I am as much a fan of the UFC as I am a handicapper; so, full disclosure, Aspinall is my favorite fighter on the roster, I’ve believed since his first fight that he will be a champion, and I will be rooting for him relentlessly Saturday night. With that qualifier out of the way, let’s dig into the matchup.
Typically, in a short notice pick’em fight with heavier opponents, I tend to side on the more powerful striker because he has less he needs to prepare for and the short notice nature limits the preparation of the technician. That normally has me siding with Pavlovich who has supernovas in his gloves and doesn’t have as diverse of a game that he needs to strategize around for this fight. Moreover, Pavlovich was training to be the backup for the original Jones v Stipe fight. This implies that he has been in a training camp for at least 6 weeks and should be in prime shape.
Conversely, Aspinall was not prepping for this fight; and, even if he was training to stay in shape, was not in a full training camp until only 2.5 weeks before the fight. Again, edge to Pavlovich. But, when it comes to the stylistic matchup between these two fighters, I side with Aspinall. He is the faster and far more technical striker. He is more dynamic on the feet and in MMA, able to mix in wrestling and grappling. He has a cracking leg kick while Pavlovich’s lead leg is vulnerable and exposed. And, most importantly, because Pavlovich loads up for his power shots, Aspinall should have ample opportunities to land his impressive, quick, and powerful counter shots on the open chin of Pavlovich.
While Aspinall has been hittable early in fights but I expect his fight IQ and preparation, even limited, to keep him safe for the first few minutes as Pavlovich looks for another quick finish. Then, near the end of round 1, after Aspinall showcases why footwork and technique can beat raw power, I’m anticipating Aspinall to find the off switch, countering and finishing Pavlovich in electrifying fashion.
And, if things really do get too dicey for the Englishman, he can always turn to his wrestling to make this a mixed martial arts fight compared to the stand up striking exchange that we’re all excited to see. In any case, I like Aspinall to take the belt to England.
Best Bet: Aspinall to win (-120 at BetUS)