UFC Vegas 71 staff picks and predictions: Blaydes to cut through Pavlovich

UFC Vegas 71 goes live on Saturday night. Here are our BE staff picks for Sergei Pavlovich vs. Curtis Blaydes and the rest of the card.

By: Tim Bissell | 2 months ago
UFC Vegas 71 staff picks and predictions: Blaydes to cut through Pavlovich
Curtis Blaydes, who appears at UFC Vegas 71. IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

The UFC is back in the APEX this weekend with a card headlined by the big boys. We’ve got Curtis Blaydes vs. Sergei Pavlovich headlining UFC Vegas 71 and Brad Tavares vs. Bruno Silva as the last minute co-main event. Bloody Elbow’s staff have watched tape, compared stats and flipped some coins to figure out who they think will win on fight night.

And, despite Pavlovich coming in on a hot winning streak, the staff are well behind Blaydes to get the win and march on in the heavyweight division. In the co-main event we’ve mostly gone for the veteran Tavares to come out on top over Silva.

Continue below for the rest of our picks for UFC Vegas 71.


Sergei Pavlovich vs. Curtis Blaydes

Zane Simon: This feels like the definition of a two-true-outcome fight. Either Pavlovich sparks Blaydes immediately, or Blaydes takes him down and works him over to the point that the Russian’s power isn’t such a devastating factor. The worst part of trying to guess which of those will happen is that they’ve both happened to both men before.

Blaydes has absolutely been sparked by big punchers. And Pavlovich has been taken down and ground out before. Personally, I think Blaydes has looked good enough as a survival level striker lately that I’ll put more weight on him making it past round 1 than on getting instantly KO’d. Curtis Blaydes by decision.

Anton Tabuena: Can I just say how the UFC Vegas 71 card is pretty blatantly just ESPN quota filler, and it’s pretty weak from top to bottom. Anyway, back to the main event that probably doesn’t ever need five rounds — Pavlovich might just have better striking, but Blaydes should have better wrestling, a more rounded out game, and more high level experience. Curtis Blaydes by TKO.

Victor Rodriguez: Blaydes only struggles with the biggest punchers in the division. Sergei isn’t one of them. Ngannou is gone and Derrick Lewis is sliding further away from another bout with him. Wrestling and vicious ground elbows will win the day for him, and it helps that he’s one of the smartest heavyweights alive. Curtis Blaydes by TKO.

Tim Bissell: I think if there were a live audience for this event we’d be getting boos in the main event. Instead, thanks to UFC Vegas 71 being in the sparsely attended UFC APEX facility, we’re gonna be clearly hearing Pavlovich sucking wind and thudding on the canvas as Blaydes takes him down, and holds him down, time after time. Pavlovich’s striking has looked impressive, thus far, but if he’s not landing punches there’s not much else he can do. Blaydes has been in there with the hardest hitters in the sports (and yes he’s taken his lumps), but I don’t think we’re ready to compare Pavlovich’s offense to Francis Ngannou’s (and probably never will be).

Blaydes is strong, athletic, intelligent and has a wide array of takedowns. He’s pretty special in the heavyweight division, despite not getting a lot of credit. Pavlovich has the hype because he does what the boss man likes, but on this night I think he’s going to get exposed by the best fighter he’s ever faced. Curtis Blaydes by decision.

Staff picking Blaydes: Bissell, Victor, Anton, Chris, Stephie, Jack, Kristen, Dayne, Eddie, Zane
Staff picking: Pavlovich: Lucas

Brad Tavares vs. Bruno Silva

Zane Simon: This fight is all really just about how each man shows up on the night. Brad Tavares his the definition of workmanlike in the middleweight division. He’s always in shape, always sticking to fundamentals, rarely ever out to wow anyone or have big moments. But, he also doesn’t really follow up on his own success and often takes his foot off the gas.

If he gives Bruno Silva a lot of time and space to work, the chances that he gets sparked at some point only increase. On the flip side, the version of Bruno Silva that showed up against Gerald Meerschaert looked one-dimensional and predictable to the point that it’s not hard to imagine standard, workaday Brad Tavares just out-pointing him for 3 rounds. Brad Tavares by decision.

Victor Rodriguez: Brad is such a balanced and well-rounded dude, but it seems he hit his ceiling. Having said that, so has Silva. Dude came into the UFC like a wrecking ball and dropped two straight against Pereira (which… sure) and then submitted by Meerschaert (I guess… also fine). Brad runs a more consistent pace but just seems to drop his volume by the end. Bruno Silva by decision.

Tim Bissell: Brad Tavares is OK at everything. Bruno Silva is pretty good at one thing. If we’d seen less of Silva I would be tempted to thinking his action striking would be enough to overwhelm Tavares and get the win. However, we’ve seen Silva struggle mightily against fighters who aren’t going to go rock ’em sock ’em with him. Tavares’s limited, but diverse arsenal, should be enough to match Silva on the feet and outpace him throughout the rest of the fight, earning him the win in the UFC Vegas 71 co-main event slot. Brad Tavares by decision.

Staff picking Tavares: Bissell, Anton, Stephie, Kristen, Dayne, Eddie, Zane
Staff picking Silva: Victor, Chris, Lucas, Jack

Bobby Green vs. Jared Gordon

Zane Simon: Jared Gordon doesn’t have KO power, and he’s not such a great wrestler that I think he can keep Bobby Green on the mat. At that point, it’s a question of whether or not he can match Green’s variety and output and that seems supremely unlikely. Bobby Green by decision.

Victor Rodriguez: I love me some Bobby Green, but it’s so hard to pick against Gordon here. He’s tenacious and has good hands to set up his wrestling. Then again, Bobby’s wrestling defense is great when he’s on point and his boxing is very slick. I just don’t know if he’s still got it together enough at this point to do it. Jared Gordon by decision.

Anton Tabuena: Should I call him King now? King by tekken combo.

Tim Bissell: Despite his advanced human years and fighter years, I think Bobby Green is still too slick with his striking to take a loss here. Gordon is durable, but hittable, and Green should be able to keep him on the back foot and dictate the pace. If Gordon wants to change things up and go for a take down, Green is going to stuff it and keep impressing the judges with his boxing. Bobby Green by decision

Staff picking Green: Anton, Chris, Lucas, Stephie, Jack, Bissell, Dayne, Eddie, Zane
Staff picking Gordon: Victor, Kristen

Iasmin Lucindo vs. Brogan Walker

Zane Simon: After Brogan Walker’s performance against Juliana Miller I kinda gotta assume she’s just not cut out to compete at this level. She needs to show something a lot better here. Iasmin Lucindo via TKO, round 2.

Victor Rodriguez: Both are very raw in some ways but at least. Brogan’s got a lovely BJJ game when she gets going. Lucindo doesn’t have that much in her back pocket like that. Brogan Walker by submission.

Tim Bissell: I think the biggest gap in skills here is creativity and that Lucindo has it in spades. I think she’s also more aggressive and more technical than Walker, so it might be a short night’s work for her at UFC Vegas 71. Iasmin Lucindo by TKO

Staff picking Lucindo: Anton, Lucas, Stephie, Jack, Kristen, Dayne, Bissell, Eddie
Staff picking Walker: Victor, Chris

Jeremiah Wells vs. Matt Semelsberger

Zane Simon: Rough fight to predict. Both men are capable of landing heavy shots, both have games that need a lot of rounding out and development. I tend to think that Semelsberger is on a much more steady path of improvement and that if Wells can’t KO him, Semelsberger can maintain a pace that will tire Wells’ formless aggression out over time. I’ll take Matthew Semelsberger via TKO, round 3.

Tim Bissell: Semelsberger gets hit, a lot. Wells isn’t very technical, but he can still land very hard shots. I think one gets through here. Jeremiah Wells by TKO

Staff picking Wells: Lucas, Jack, Kristen, Dayne, Bissell, Eddie
Staff picking Semelsberger: Victor, Anton, Chris, Stephie

Ricky Glenn vs. Christos Giagos

Zane Simon: Giagos only tends to win when he has a clear wrestling and grappling advantage…

To read the rest of our UFC Vegas 71 staff picks head on over to Substack. Now that Bloody Elbow is a fully independent site the best way to support us, so that we can continue fearless coverage of combat sports, is to pick up a paid subscription. Paid subscribers help fund other exclusive content like editorials from Karim Zidan and Jonathan Snowden and investigations by John S. Nash.

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Leader board

Last week Victor had the best record, going 9-5. He’s got a long way to go to catch the pack, though. He’d be up near the top if we were going by win percentage, but I have to reward participation. Dayne remains on top and Eddie remains one pick behind him, thanks to both going 7-7. It’s still very tight in the top three so we will see what happens after UFC Vegas 71. I continue to ensure no one cries foul, by making sure I’m nowhere near the top of the leader board.

PositionStafferCorrectIncorrectTotal Picks%Picks BackWeek 12 Record
1 (-)Dayne95541490.6387-7
2 (-)Eddie94551490.63117-7
3 (-)Anton90591490.60468-6
4 (-)Zane86631490.57786-8
5 (-)Kristen84651490.564117-7
6 (-)Stephie83551380.601127-7
7 (-)Bissell74751490.497184-10
8 (▲1)Lucas68661340.507277-7
9 (▼1)Chris67721390.482265-9
10 (-)Victor3926650.600589-5
11 (-)BE Community3729660.561596-8
12 (-)Jack1410240.583817-5
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About the author
Tim Bissell
Tim Bissell

Tim Bissell is a writer, editor and deputy site manager for Bloody Elbow. He has covered combat sports since 2015. Tim covers news and events and has also written longform and investigative pieces. Among Tim's specialties are the intersections between crime and combat sports. Tim has also covered head trauma, concussions and CTE in great detail.

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