On Saturday, March 4, Jon Jones will take on Ciryl Gane in UFC 285 for the heavyweight championship. The fight marks the return of one of MMA’s most legendary athletes. Jones, who has not fought since February of 2020, will be looking to reinvigorate his name among the dominant fighters in the sport today.
But an interesting story that’s gone under the radar is that of the alternate to the main event. Should Jones or Gane be unable to fight on Saturday for whatever reason, Sergei Pavlovich will step in to replace the missing fighter.
Jones weighed in at 248 pounds while Gane weighed in at 247.5, making the title fight official for Saturday. Pavlovich came in and stepped on the scale, which finally revealed he was the alternate for the title fight after UFC president Dana White had alluded to a backup last weekend.
So what does Pavlovich’s status mean for the heavyweight division? Let’s dive in and take a look.
The Russian Francis
Sergei Pavlovich is one of the most fearsome heavyweights in the UFC and has been surging as of late. He’s currently on a 5-fight win streak, including knockouts against Derrick Lewis, Tai Tuivasa, and Shamil Abdurakhimov in 2022.
Now with 17 wins and just 1 loss in his professional career, Pavlovich’s recent stretch of dominance has ushered in a unique nickname. Many now refer to him as “the Russian Francis Ngannou.” This is in reference to the Cameroonian heavyweight fighter who previously struck fear throughout the division with his immense power. Ngannou has since left the UFC to pursue a career in boxing, but his Russian counterpart is sure to take up his mantle as one of the most feared fighters in the division.
Bad Omen for the Champ
Pavlovich’s designation as alternate for this title fight between Jones and Ciryl Gane is quite an honor and foreshadows his upcoming relevance in the division. Pavlovich is scheduled to fight Curtis Blaydes in a UFC Fight Night on April 22. Winning that may earn Pavlovich a shot at the title.
So with Pavlovich present during this massive UFC 285 event in Las Vegas, what does that mean for Jones and Gane? Whoever wins Saturday night’s main event and takes the heavyweight title will surely have to face Pavlovich down the road.
No matter who takes home the belt on Saturday, Pavlovich fighting either of these guys would be a sight to behold. The Russian’s sheer power would be enough to knock out Jones or Gane. For Jones, it may be his greatest test in a long time, with Pavlovich being a true threat on the feet.
It’s great to see that Francis Ngannou’s absence as a powerful threat in the division is being filled by Pavlovich. This means there is a true threat to the heavyweight championship no matter if Jones or Gane wins on Saturday.
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