UFC Vegas 71: Pavlovich vs. Blaydes – Unofficial Awards

Get a unique rundown of all the trophies that should have been handed out at UFC Vegas 71 with Dayne Fox's Unofficial Awards.

By: Dayne Fox | 2 months ago
UFC Vegas 71: Pavlovich vs. Blaydes – Unofficial Awards
IMAGO / Louis Grasse

UFC Vegas 71 went out with a bang. No surprise, given it was a pair of heavy hitting heavyweights that threw down. The conclusion saw Sergei Pavlovich walking out of the APEX with his sixth consecutive first round knockout, a UFC record. Aside from a single takedown attempt after he’d already had his chin checked, Blaydes foolishly opted to trade fisticuffs with the heavy-handed Russian. Blaydes landed a few good shots of his own, but they didn’t have the same impact as that of Pavlovich, resulting in Pavlovich walking out of Las Vegas with his hand raised. If politics don’t get in the way, Pavlovich should be fighting for the heavyweight title next.

Though that was by far the most consequential contest on the card, there’s plenty of other happenings from the event to touch on. Those are often overlooked in the immediate aftermath of events, particularly when they’re on smaller Fight Night cards. As always, I’m here to make sure those get a spotlight on them with my Unofficial Awards. Let’s dig in! 

Biggest Jump in Stock 

As has been the trend as of late, this was hard to figure. No one appeared to have a breakout performance. However, it can be said that Jeremiah Wells was tested and found to be worthy of testing himself against someone either in the official rankings or just outside. Wells endured a hell of a beatdown from Matt Semelsberger in the opening minute of their contest, only to turn the attack around on Semelsberger. I don’t just mean he managed to survive the opening round; he managed to take the round on the scorecards of two judges. There’s still questions for him to answer, but his toughness, durability, and heart aren’t up for debate. 

Wells called for a ranked opponent next, but there’s no guarantee he’ll get that. Had he had a name ready, he would have increased his chances of that likelihood happening. For instance, I’m shocked he didn’t ask for Neil Magny since Magny seems to be the call out of every rising welterweight. Regardless, Wells got a late start as he’s already 36 just 15 fights into his career. He’s making good progress, but he can’t afford to let that progress slow in the least. 

Biggest Fall in Stock 

Nobody suffered a crash landing, but it does indicate Brad Tavares is in a decline, suffering his second consecutive loss. The first loss can be partially excused as Dricuss Du Plessis has surprised many with his surge up the middleweight division. But Tavares also appeared listless in that contest, at least compared to his usual style. He was looking better against Bruno Silva before he got caught. While everyone gets caught from time to time, Tavares is getting caught at a greater rate than he used to. 

At 35, his chin doesn’t appear to be what it once was. I’d be shocked if Tavares doesn’t pick up a few more wins before he’s done in the UFC, but he no longer appears to be the gatekeeper to the official UFC rankings. Then again, he’s been in that position for roughly a decade now. It shouldn’t be a surprise to see he’s slowing down. 

Saved Their Job(s) 

If Silva came in and laid an egg against Tavares, it’s very possible he would have been handed his walking papers. He looked miserable in his previous appearance against Gerald Meerschaert, leading many to question how effective he is under UFC drug testing. After all, he was forced to sit out two years after initially signing with the organization. Fortunately for Silva, he hurt Tavares after three minutes had passed and didn’t let up, finding a finish. In the process, Silva assured he keeps his job. I don’t see the PED chatter dying – sportsmen are always working to stay ahead of testers – but they aren’t as voluminous at this point.

Start Typing a Resume 

The UFC never seemed to have a lot invested in Brogan Walker. They got their wish when Juliana Miller beat her to claim the TUF championship and now she lost a one-sided contest to Iasmin Lucindo. She’s a 33-year-old limited athlete with a game that’s more attune to where women’s MMA was about a decade ago. It isn’t out of the realm of possibility they bring her back, but I think they’d rather take a chance on a wild card with higher upside. 

There is a little bit of controversy in his loss – I’ll touch on that in a bit – but Danaa Batgerel finds himself riding a three-fight losing streak. At 33 without a victory over anyone currently on the roster, Danaa’s resume isn’t looking very impressive, despite the three consecutive first-round KO’s he also managed to pick up. The controversy might be enough to save him from getting a pink slip, but I wouldn’t be so sure. 

Biggest WOW Moment 

A strong argument could be made for Pavlovich’s finish of Blaydes, but the suddenness in which Christos Giagos managed to dispose of the previously iron-chinned Ricky Glenn was a major jaw-dropper. Giagos caught Glenn with a left hand in the midst of an exchange between the two that saw Glenn faceplant into the canvas. The impact did seem to wake Glenn up, but Giagos’ attack continued, prompting the referee to step in. Not only was it the biggest win of Giagos’ career, it was the biggest highlight of his career too.

Most Controversial Stoppage 

It can’t be denied Danaa was in a bad spot, on all fours as Brady Hiestand delivered punch after punch to him. Hiestand wasn’t letting up with the punches either, throwing them in a constant stream. What was controversial about the stoppage was they were the type of strikes that were more annoying than doing any real damage. Danaa did stop moving, but it looked more like he thought he could ride out the light punches Hiestand was delivering than not being able to answer due to the damage. By the letter of the law, the stoppage was understandable. By the spirit of the law, it looked premature. 

Least Controversial Decision 

On the flip side, it’s good to see the NSAC got things right with regards to the Bobby Green and Jared Gordon fight. Green leapt in to attack and ended up drilling Gordon with his head. It didn’t put Gordon out cold, but it did lead to the beginning of the end for him. It was difficult to see the head butt in real time from the angle presented, but the replay confirmed that’s what happened. 

Gordon and Green appeared to be understanding of the situation, neither expressing bad blood after the official decision was announced, but Green was a completely different story at the presser. He didn’t bother to hang around for very long. Green’s frustration is understandable, but it should be noted he didn’t offer a reason why it was the wrong decision. Whether it is run back is unknown, but it’s nice to see no one getting stuck with an undeserved outcome. I’m sure Chris Curtis will have some words about this…. 

Worst Fight 

Unfortunately, the card went through a hell of a lull following the opening contest. Francis Marshall and William Gomis picked up the action in the final round. Junior Tafa managed to hurt Mohammed Usman at the end of the first round, resulting in a fun exchange to close the round. Other than that, it was pretty much just a bunch of lay-and-prey on behalf of Usman. Norma Dumont and Karol Rosa spent long stretches either staring at each other or clinching up with little action happening. All three are strong contenders for the worst fight of the evening. 

Ultimately, Usman and Tafa gets the award as lay-and-prey is the worst type of fight. Dumont and Rosa might have taken it, but Rosa made an earnest effort to secure a finish in the final round. It at least created some drama in the fight down the stretch, which is also the pivotal moment for creating drama. Thus, Usman and Tafa get the unwanted award. Not that they care. Well, I would hope they don’t care…. 

Biggest Physical Disparity 

We all knew that Montel Jackson is one of the most physically gifted bantamweights on the roster. We also knew that Rani Yahya is one of the least athletic members of the UFC roster. Given bantamweights are generally some of the best athletes on the roster, their contest was probably one of the largest disparities in terms of physical gifts in the history of the UFC. That isn’t to say Yahya didn’t give him an honest accounting for; he threatened with an armbar. But when they were on their feet, it was a blatant mismatch. Regardless, the outcome you believe would happen came to pass when Jackson became the first to finish Yahya in the UFC. 

Bonus Numbers 

The Performance Bonuses all went to those who scored first round KO’s. Thus, Pavlovich picked up his fourth bonus, Silva his third, Giagos his second, and Jackson picked up his first after 10 appearances. Given the talents of Jackson, it’s a bit of a surprise it took so long for him to pick up an extra $50K. You might guess it was the longest drought entering the event. You would be wrong…. 

Tavares made his UFC debut all the way back in June 2010. That was 22 fights ago. Never in that time has Tavares ever picked up a Performance Bonus. You might guess Jackson’s drought might have been second in length. Not so by a factor of one-half as Yahya hasn’t picked up a single bonus in his UFC tenure either. That extends to January 2011, 20 fights ago. Given all the submissions Yahya has picked up, that’s a bit of a surprise. Given both Tavares and Yahya are on the backside of their careers, it won’t be a shock if neither ever collects a Performance Bonus.

Click here for the 6th Round recap.

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About the author
Dayne Fox
Dayne Fox

Dayne Fox is a contributing writer and analyst for Bloody Elbow. He has been writing about combat sports since 2013 and a member of Bloody Elbow since 2016. Dayne primarily contributes opinion pieces and event coverage. Dayne’s specialties are putting together the preview articles for all the UFC events and post-fight analysis. Outside of writing on combat sports, Dayne works in the purchasing department of a construction company, formerly working as an analyst. He is also a proud husband and father. In what spare time he can find, he enjoys strategy games and is a movie enthusiast. He is based in Utah.

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