The Severe Spotlight: Sergei Pavlovich

In fifty-four seconds of fighting, Sergei Pavlovich took himself from a Heavyweight fighter largely unknown outside of the hardcore population to a bona fide contender (which is odd for a man ranked #6 going into the contest). The sultry strut across the cage to embrace with Tuivasa and the eventual settling into stances had a nonchalant confidence mixed with respect; hindsight says that Pavlovich had an awareness that Tuivasa was about to take significant damage and wanted to embrace him prior.

The measuring stick of the fight was short, Pavlovich pawed out the lead hand whilst creeping to his left-hand side, trying to square up Tuivasa for the right hand to find its mark. After being defensively sound to slide his way out of the low kick attempt, Pavlovich was satisfied that Tuivasa had crossed the tramline sufficiently. He dipped his level to force a reaction from Tuivasa, as the right hand came like a tennis serve. The Australian got his hands up to block the shot, but the sheer impact of the first blow tipped the domino of despair that began the chaotic tumbling of panic, spiralling the fight away from Tai Tuivasa’s reach.

The first right hand was the first in a line of six unanswered shots, right hands to left hooks. All these shots drew no change of expression from the Russian, not even an opening of the mouth for breath. In Tuivasa style, this was not a fight that was going to end without rugged resistance; the first landmine came in the heat of the seventh bullet leaving the Pavlovich chamber, met, and cut in half by a scything right hand from Tuivasa. Instead of looking perturbed, Pavlovich took the shot and continued to land his own uppercut regardless. Immense showing of chin strength.

Whilst the right hand from Tuivasa caused a brief interval to the enslaught, there was no time for ice cream breaks. The pitch raised in the second stanza as Pavlovich set his feet, jamming a Tuivasa right hand with a left hook, landing a right straight and a hop in left hook, sitting Tuivasa down. A brief post on the thigh of Tuivasa, an attempt to stick him to the mat bore no fruit, but the jackhammer uppercuts to the forearm and chin of Tuivasa drove him further to the flaming pit of chaos like a cattle prod to the back.

With a lacerated face, and a partially separated consciousness, Tuivasa understood that the writing on the wall was being etched with his own blood and did what we know and love for him to do. Swing for the fences, and not go without a fight. Pavlovich however was focussed, controlled and far too good. Tuivasa, desperate to gain some respect, space and time, throws a baseball swing right hand so ferociously, that he off balances himself drastically enough to return himself to the mat. Pavlovich, handing him the rope to hang himself with – continued to hammer his arsenal of shots into Tuivasa. Straights, uppercuts, and hooks.

The crescendo was one of the most impressive parts of the fifty-four second performance. A wild and hurt Tai Tuivasa is a very dangerous beast; Pavlovich was hyper-aware, rolling with the shots coming, looking to pick his own with supreme focus. It is very easy; and something we see all the time, is fighters wasting their chances to finish fights when they have their opponent hurt. Instead, Pavlovich waited, and continued to touch Tuivasa until the Western Australia talisman sat into the cage, after a right hand connected with the top of his head. He measured the uppercut, and thundered it into the nose of Tuivasa, crushing him to the mat.

Some coffin nails later and the referee calls mercy to the contest. We have a new heavyweight contender on our hands, and his name is Sergei Pavlovich.