UFC Fight Night: Pavlovich vs. Blaydes
April 22, 2023
Emrick’s 2023 UFC Fighter Pick Record (90-56-3)
Main Events (5-7)
Lock of the Week (8-4)
Dawg of the Week (4-8)
Lifetime Fighter Pick Record (388-218-6)
BW: Brady Hiestand (7-2) vs. Danaa Batgerel (12-4)
- Pick: Danaa Batgerel
FW: Francis Marshall (7-0) vs. William Gomis (11-2)
- Pick: Francis Marshall
HW: Mohammed Usman (9-2) vs. Junior Tafa (4-0)
- Pick: Junior Tafa
WFW: #9 WBW Karol Rosa (16-4) vs. #13 WBW Norma Dumont (8-2)
- Pick: Norma Dumont
BW: Rani Yahya (28-10-1, 1 NC) vs. Montel Jackson (12-2)
- Pick: Montel Jackson
LW: Ricky Glenn (22-6-2) vs. Christos Giagos (19-10)
- Pick: Ricky Glenn
Main Card Predictions:
WW: Jeremiah Wells (11-2-1) vs. Matthew Semelsberger (11-4)
- Pick: Matthew Semelsberger (-105) *Dawg of the Week*
- Quick Reasoning: It’s very hard to gauge this fight. Wells has fought three times in the UFC, but has only gone past the first round once in a second-round KO win against Warlley Alves. Semelsberger is younger, more experienced, and has had the better quality of opponents than Wells. Don’t treat that all as a knock against Wells though, he’s done everything asked and more by making light work of his opposition. After an impressive win over Jake Matthews and a respectable performance in a loss to Alex Morono, I’m siding with Semelsberger. Semelsberger can heat up in the later rounds, and – assuming this fight gets there – I like Semelsberger’s odds to win this and take Wells into deep waters. They’re both powerful and capable on the ground as well, so I’ll edge it to Semelsberger in terms of experience and resume. I wouldn’t bet this fight unless it is to not go the distance, but avoid the moneyline at all costs. Semelsberger by KO in the second or third is the pick.
WFLY: Iasmin Lucindo (13-5) vs. Brogan Walker (8-3)
- Pick: Iasmin Lucindo (-340)
- Quick Reasoning: Why is this on the main card? Well, that’s because Lucindo has a ton of potential to become a future contender. She showed herself well against another up-and-comer, Yazmin Jauregui, during her debut last August, where she lost in a striking battle by UD. Walker looked rough against Juliana Miller, who took Walker down four times and finished her with elbows. I’m not going to lie, my stock in Brogan – who I picked to beat Miller – definitely fell after Miller was ragdolled by Veronica Hardy for three rounds. Although Lucindo is only 21, she is more experienced and is the better striker of the two in this one and should be able to handle herself on the ground if the fight gets there. Alright, Lucindo by KO or decision is the pick here, but the odds are a little too heavy for my liking.
LW: Bobby Green (29-14-1) vs. Jared Gordon (19-6)
- Pick: Bobby Green (-270) *Lock of the Week*
- Quick Reasoning: I love this fight for Bobby Green. He has fantastic hands, ability to stuff his opponents’ ground game, and has an incredible resume during his time in the UFC. He’s been able to hang in fights with contenders such as Rafael Fiziev, outstrike borderline-ranked opponents like Nasrat Haqparast by 100+, and most recently was outstriking Drew Dober 2:1 before getting folded in the second round. Jared Gordon is pretty good, especially since he clearly beat Paddy Pimblett, and this seems like a surefire step-up in competition from that fight. Gordon also has good hands and lands over five strikes per minute, but almost everything he can do Green can do better. The only areas Gordon beats Bobby Green are in striking accuracy (58% vs. 52%), strikes absorbed per minute (3.22 vs. 3.67), and takedowns landed per fight. All these stats presented are close, but the level of competition Bobby Green has had while accumulating those stats are wildly impressive. I’m going with Bobby Green here, but the KO loss he had to Dober is a tad bit worrying. However, I trust he knows what he’s doing, especially considering that Gordon is much less of a KO threat than Dober was. Green by TKO or UD is the choice.
MW: Brad Tavares (19-8) vs. Bruno Silva (22-8)
- Pick: Brad Tavares (-165)
- Quick Reasoning: What the hell happened to Bruno Silva? A true tale of how one fight can change the people’s outlook on a fighter happened in Silva vs. Meerschaert last August. After three straight KO wins, Silva had a surprisingly contested bout with Alex Pereira, then followed it up with getting outstruck, knocked down, and submitted by the one and only GM3. I can say I’m picking Tavares because of that, but in reality it’s because of that and one other thing. The other thing is that Tavares is just better. He’s consistently had better competition, performed quite admirably against Dricus Du Plessis in his last fight, and Silva’s victories have come against opponents that are a combined 5-10 in the past three years. Tavares is consistent, has only been finished once in the past eight years, and has faced Adesanya, a prime Shahbazyan, Jotko, Whittaker, Romero, and many others who have been contenders in or around the rankings. Although he has lost more of those fights than won against top guys, Tavares should be able to handle Silva if he remains defensively sound. Tavares via decision is my pick here, as it’s a jump up in competition for Silva after a rough loss his last time out.
HW: #3 Sergei Pavlovich (17-1) vs. #4 Curtis Blaydes (17-3, 1 NC)
- Pick: Curtis Blaydes (-165)
- Quick Reasoning: Yeah, this is a scary fight no matter what side you’re picking here. Will Blaydes drag Sergei into deep waters with the constant takedowns and ruthless ground-and-pound? Will Pavlovich get – yet another – first round KO win against a contender? Do we look back at Overeem’s victory over Pavlovich as the benchmark for where Sergei’s takedown and ground defense are at nowadays? Can Blaydes get too confident on the feet, as he did against Tom Aspinall, leading to his demise? There’s so many questions here and I love it. Sergei is essentially a Jeremiah Wells or Terrance MicKinney on steroids, he goes out there and takes care of business as quickly as he can. We haven’t had much to assess him on, especially against a past-prime Shamil, declining Derrick Lewis, and Tuivasa just months after being pummeled by Ciryl Gane. Blaydes is the perfect test, as he is defensively sound and is one of the few top HWs with genuine ability on the ground. I believe Blaydes will shoot for takedowns as long as he has to in order to keep Pavlovich out of any advantageous position. He’s had issues with power punchers, losing to Ngannou twice and Derrick Lewis (in a fight Blaydes was winning) by KO. If his chin isn’t suspect, I believe Blaydes will find a way to the ground before Sergei clips him. Segei’s only been out of the first round three times, winning two decisions in the third round and one in the fifth outside of the UFC. I’m nervous for Blaydes and Sergei, as this fight has the potential for pure craziness or a one-sided beatdown for five rounds. I’m thinking somewhere in-between, with Blaydes getting a finish by ground-and-pound TKO in the third.