UFC Fight Night 222 in Vegas: Kligman picks Sergei Pavlovich vs Curtis Blaydes, Brad Tavares vs. Bruno Silva
The UFC returns to the UFC Apex with a bang, as brutal bigs Sergei Pavlovich and Curtis Blaydes battle, headlining UFC Fight Night 222 this Saturday, Apr. 22.
Heavyweights lead the card along with promising prospects, and even the brother of a former champion steps into the octagon. Song Yadong was originally scheduled to fight Ricky Simon in the co-main event, but that is now pushed back a week to serve as the main event for UFC Vegas 72.
Continue reading for more about UFC Fight Night 222, including picks and a preview of the entire main card. Last week my predictions went 5-1, increasing my record to 35-16-2 in 2023.
UFC Fight Night 222 Main Card:
Heavyweight: Sergei Pavlovich vs. Curtis Blaydes
Middleweight: Brad Tavares vs. Bruno Silva
Lightweight: Bobby Green vs. Jared Gordon
Flyweight: Iasmin Lucindo vs. Brogan Walker
Welterweight: Jeremiah Wells vs. Matthew Semelsberger
UFC Fight Night 222 Prelims:
Lightweight: Ricky Glenn vs. Christos Giagos
Bantamweight: Rani Yahya vs. Montel Jackson
Featherweight: Karol Rosa vs. Norma Dumont
Heavyweight: Mohammed Usman vs. Junior Tafa
Featherweight: Francis Marshall vs. William Gomis
Flyweight: Priscila Cachoeira vs. Karine Silva
Bantamweight: Brady Hiestand vs. Batgerel Danaa
Sergei Pavlovich (17-1) vs. Curtis Blaydes (17-3)
Top contenders with potential title implications are on the line Saturday in the main event as knockout artist Sergei Pavlovich faces Curtis Blaydes.
After a two-year layoff due to injury and visa issues, Pavlovich returned to the UFC in 2022 with three huge first-round highlight stoppages, including finishes over Derrick Lewis and Tai Tuivasa in under a minute. The only loss in Pavlovich’s career was in his UFC debut against heavyweight staple Alistair Overeem.
Blaydes enters winning seven of his last eight showings, but an injury to Tom Aspinall in his most recent appearance – when he suffered a knee injury seconds into a main event clash in London – prevented us from seeing a defining moment in his career. If Blaydes can use his wrestling to his advantage, he could pose a real threat to Pavlovich.
Standing up and deciding to trade punches won't work against Pavlovich, as no fight of his in the UFC has entered the second round, so Blaydes will have to mix in his wrestling. Blaydes took down Alexander Volkov 14 times in a fight before, but the power of Pavlovich is a different element.
My pick: Sergei Pavlovich
Brad Tavares (19-8) vs. Bruno Silva (22-8)
Veteran middleweight Brad Tavares returns to challenge Bruno Silva in the co-main event.
Tavares has been with the company since 2010 but hasn’t fought since making his only appearance in 2022, surrendering a unanimous decision defeat against rising star Dricus Du Plessis. Before that fight, Tavares had won six of his last eight and will be looking to get back in form against the reeling Silva.
Silva had a promising start to his UFC career, finishing all three of his first opponents via knockout. Since then, he’s lost to former middleweight champion Alex Pereira and submitted by Gerald Meerschaert.
With both men coming off losses, each will be eager to return to the win column.
My pick: Brad Tavares
Bobby Green (29-14-1) vs. Jared Gordon (19-6)
With disappointing years in 2022 for both fighters behind them, Bobby Green and Jared Gordon are looking to right the ship in their first appearances of the year.
Green is a lightweight long-timer coming off cruel back-to-back losses, getting finished twice. One of his losses was against champion Islam Makhachev on short notice, so he gets a pass there. Against Drew Dober, Green was dominating until he got caught. Green is always guns blazing, ready to throw punches at anyone willing to tango.
Gordon is coming off one of the most controversial decisions of 2022, somehow losing a unanimous decision against UFC fan favorite Paddy Pimblett. Although the scorecard was unanimous, people left this one scratching their heads as Gordon stood and landed punches and was able to take Pimblett down three times.
With how low Green keeps his guard – if he even guards himself – Gordon should have the opportunity to land a knockout like Makhachev and Dober. The real issue is Gordon’s ability to finish fights, only knocking out one opponent in the UFC. With this in mind, Green will undoubtedly want to keep the fight standing.
My pick: Bobby Green
Iasmin Lucindo (13-5) vs. Brogan Walker (8-3)
UFC sophomores collide in the cage in this women’s flyweight matchup between Iasmin Lucindo and Brogan Walker.
The 21-year-old Lucindo lost in her UFC debut, snapping her seven-fight win streak, but managed to compete against the undefeated Yazmin Jauregui, landing 66 punches. Undoubtedly, she would’ve liked to end up with the win, but it was still a promising performance.
An Ultimate Fighter finalist, Walker was smothered in her debut – getting taken down four times and eventually stopped due to nasty elbow strikes from the ground. The 34-year-old Walker has a tough test in front of her, but her eight-year experience in Invicta Fighting Championships, an all-pro women’s company, gives her a glimmer of hope.
Walker will need all the experience she’s garnered, even if her opponent just turned the legal age.
My pick: Iasmin Lucindo
Jeremiah Wells (11-2) vs. Matthew Semelsberger (11-4)
Commencing the main card is Philadelphia native Jeremiah Wells and Matthew Semelsberger.
Wells is unbeaten in the UFC since joining in 2021, racking up three stoppage finishes in his first three fights. In his last fight against Court McGee, Wells knocked out McGee with a vicious left hook – earning Wells his first performance of the night award.
Semelsberger has a football background, formerly playing collegiately as a defensive back. In 2021, Semelsberger put up a pair of freaky fast finishes in times of 15 and 16 seconds and is 3-1 in his last four fights.
Each possesses serious power, and given their track records don’t be shocked if there’s a noteworthy finish.
My pick: Jeremiah Wells
You can watch the entire event on ESPN+. The prelims begin at 4 PM EST, and the main card starts at 7 PM EST.