The UFC has a new heavyweight knockout king.
Sergei Pavlovich flattened Curtis Blaydes via TKO at 3:08 of the first round Saturday in the main event of UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas. Pavlovich has six straight first-round KO/TKO victories, extending his own modern-day UFC record. He is tied for second with Don Frye for the most consecutive KO/TKO stoppages in UFC history, behind only Chuck Liddell.
Pavlovich is averaging just 2 minutes, 23 seconds in the Octagon, the shortest ever among UFC heavyweights, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
"Hey, where's my belt?" Pavlovich said through an interpreter in his postfight interview.
A title shot could certainly be coming next. Coming in, ESPN had Pavlovich ranked No. 3 and Blaydes No. 4 in the world at heavyweight.
Champion Jon Jones is expected to defend his title next against former champ Stipe Miocic later this year, though a date has not yet been set. Pavlovich could be queued up for the winner or he could be pitted against another contender rather than waiting.
The big question around Saturday's fight was whether Pavlovich could stop Blaydes' takedowns. Blaydes is an excellent wrestler with knockout power of his own. But Pavlovich quickly answered that. Blaydes didn't even shoot for a takedown until he was hurt by a Pavlovich combination, and things only went downhill after that.
"Big respect to Curtis Blaydes," Pavlovich said. "He's great. But somebody was saying he was going to easily take me down. What are they saying now?"
Pavlovich initially hurt Blaydes with an overhand right that dropped him. Then he closed in for more. He wobbled Blaydes with a jab and followed with an uppercut and big combination. A right hand put Blaydes down for good, and Pavlovich followed with punches on the ground until referee Marc Goddard stopped the bout.
Pavlovich (18-1) was coming off a knockout of Tai Tuivasa in 54 seconds. The Russian-born fighter lost his UFC debut to Alistair Overeem in 2018 but has not lost since. Pavlovich, 30, is the former heavyweight champion of Russia's Fight Nights Global promotion.
Blaydes (17-4, 1 NC) had a three-fight winning streak snapped. The Chicago area native had lost only to power punchers Francis Ngannou (twice) and Derrick Lewis previously in his UFC career. Blaydes, 32, has only lost as a pro by KO/TKO.