Sergei Pavlovich is the UFC Saudi Arabia fighter to watch

Sergei Pavlovich returns to the Octagon for the first time since his loss to Tom Aspinall.
Sergei Pavlovich
Sergei Pavlovich / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

This time last year people were predicting Sergei Pavlovich would be the next man to face the UFC heavyweight champion. And we were almost right.

Pavlovich made his UFC debut in 2018 taking on a killer in his first outing. He faced Alistair Overeem and lost in the very first round. But he bounced back from that last with six first-round finishes, all on the feet. His punching power was a thing of beauty and was setting him up nicely as the next No. 1 contender.

When Jon Jones and Stipe Miocic were initially scheduled to fight on Nov. 11, 2023, Pavlovich was called in to be the backup. He was as close as close could be to the title, outside of Miocic of course. It turned out the UFC would need him when Jones was injured and an interim title fight was made. Opposite him that night was Tom Aspinall who took the fight on just days' notice. Unfortunately, that wasn't Pavlovich's night and he was knocked out by Aspinall.

Now, seven months later he comes back to the cage to fight Alexander Volkov in the co-main event at UFC Saudi Arabia in a bid to put himself in the incredibly muddled UFC heavyweight title talk.

Can Sergei Pavlovich bounce back from the Tom Aspinall loss?

It will be interesting to see if Pavolvich can bounce back from the Aspinall loss with the same vigor as he did after losing to Overeem all those years ago.

It's not going to be easy. Volkov is on a three-fight win streak and has a great ground game. But Volkov has been out longer. He hasn't fought since September 2023. Pavlovich will need to stay on his feet, Volkov's last win came via an Ezekiel choke of Tai Tuivasa.

Keep your eye on this fight, I think we might see the winner being added to the title talks, especially if there's a first or second-round finish.