The pinnacle promotion of martial arts combat continues to stay busy as we get to the UFC Vegas 71 press conference.
We're rolling through another week and the UFC continues to put on some action for the fans. Heavyweights will collide in the UFC Apex as Curtis Blaydes looks to run through the surging Sergei Pavlovich. Of course, there are plenty of other must-see fights to pave the way to our main event this weekend.
Jared Gordon is back for the first time since a controversial loss to Paddy Pimblett, Bruno Silva looks to snap his two-fight losing streak, and many more exciting fighters are on the bill. Though we've got a few more days before the action, media is a huge part of fighting. So, with that being said, let's get into the mental of these fighters before we get to the physical.
The UFC Vegas 71 press conference was a fun one! Catch the highlights of it here.
UFC Vegas 71 Press Conference: Pavlovich vs Blaydes
Curtis Blaydes Ready for Hard-Hitting War
To start off this UFC Fight Night press conference synopsis, we'll turn to Curtis Blaydes. Blaydes has been so close, but just a bit too far for his liking in terms of the heavyweight championship. He's fought the former heavyweight champion, Francis Ngannou, twice. Although he fell short against him both times, it shows that he's no stranger to fighting the heavy hitters. Sergei Pavlovich is another heavy hitter.
Preparing for war against a slugger like this always brings up the question: Is it easier going into a fight knowing the opponent's game plan is to try and take your head off? Or is it harder because there's no real way to train for that?
Curtis responded to this question at the Pavlovich vs Blaydes press conference, stating:
“A little bit of both. ‘Cause yeah, it's hard to replicate the intensity that I'm sure Sergei's going to be bringing. But, also a little easier because you're not worried about whole bunch of other… him using a bunch of other attacks.”
Following this question was one about Pavlovich's loss in his UFC debut. In fact, it's his only loss as a professional, and it came by way of first-round TKO against Alistair Overeem. Not that MMA math is the most valid thing in the world, but Overeem beat Pavlovich with ground and pound, and Blaydes beat Overeem with ground and pound. So… is Blaydes leaning on that MMA math for his confidence?
Nope, not at all.
“Well, that's not like… I don't believe in MMA math, because that'll get you screwed up. I look at that film, I was actually there [when Overeem beat Pavlovich] 'cause I fought Francis that night, so I watched it. And yeah, that does give me confidence that if Alistair can take him down and hold him down, I'm confident that I can also.”
As mentioned earlier, this fight will be hosted at the UFC Apex. That means we're rocking with the 25-foot cage, as opposed to the 30-foot one. Blaydes was questioned on whether or not this bothered him.
“The smaller cage, it does allow for a lot more engagement. But, if I'm using my footwork the way I know I can, and using my high-lows, I don't believe it's going to be an issue.”
Of course, we cannot look at the history of the heavyweight title and not acknowledge for how long Curtis Blaydes has been in the peripherals. It's not unfair to say that he's almost the Leon Edwards of his division when thinking of someone who has been so close for so long, but just hasn't gotten his shot. Blaydes was asked if he was annoyed at the tempestuous state of the Heavyweight division.
“No, I know I'm working towards. I win, I'll wait. I'll wait for a title shot. It don't care who it is — if it's Jon, if it's Stipe, if they bring in Brock Lesnar — I'll wait.”
Sergei Pavlovich Focused on the Moment
As one half of the titular bout for this UFC Fight Night press conference, Sergei made the most out of his time with the media. The Russian knockout artist has made it five wins straight and ended all of these wins via KO/TKO. If that doesn't warrant a main event spot, then I'm unsure what does.
Thankfully, the UFC did right by him and has him as one half of the marquee bout. When asked about what he's looking forward to, Pavlvovich responded with:
“Feeling great about it. Finally we'll get a poster with my face on it. I've been dreaming about a poster for a long time. Other than that, I'm ready for the fight. I'm excited, I'm looking forward to it.”
As mentioned earlier, the waters at heavyweight aren't all that clear; Stipe vs Jones isn't quite official, and even if it is, Jones is mentioning that this will be his retirement fight, which could throw things off a bit.
Pavlovich seems unperturbed by anything outside of this weekend:
“I don't really think ahead of it at this moment. Right now, I'm thinking and concentrating only on the fight ahead of me.”
The media later circled back to this being the Russian's first UFC main event.
“Great feeling because this is what we work for. This is what you work for you entire life. You go into the fact that you're going to be, one day, in the lights of the main event. This is what you're working for. That mans that everything that I've done, everything that I've done up to now has paid off. So I feel great about this; I don't feel pressure, I feel like this is what's supposed to be happening.”
UFC Fight Night Press Conference: Rest of the Main Card
Brad Tavares Brings the Energy
Brad Tavares is a fighter who's fought the who's who of middleweights. Yoel Romero, Robert Whittaker, Israel Adesanya — that's a pretty nutty resume to have. He's done all this but still looks young and brings a young guy energy about him when doing his part for the media.
Tavares was asked about his position in the co-main event now that Ricky Simon and Song Yadong have been moved to a later date, to which, the Hawaiian responded with:
“I don't really think it changes anything except actual card placement.”
Tavares, as previously mentioned, went toe-to-toe with Israel Adesanya years ago. So, you know, we had to get his take on his previous win over Alex Pereira as he stole the middleweight belt back.
“Oh, man, what a fight! In the first [MMA] fight, I was really rooting for Izzy. I was rooting for him. And I was happy for Pereira to win, he did win. But then after that fight, I'm like ‘Okay, he's beat him three times. No matter what Izzy does, like, Izzy's winning the whole fight… But no matter what, [Pereira] just finds a way to beat him. And so, in this fourth fight, I was like ‘Man, I'm rooting for Izzy, but I just think Pereira got his number'… F*cking Izzy just uncorks a bomb of a right hand and, man, for a fan, that was an exciting fight.”
Couldn't agree more, Brad.
We can't talk about that Adesanya win without discussing what's next for the champ now that Pereira is moving up to 205lbs. Brad has an interesting take on how to put this puzzle together if he were the matchmaker:
“Rightfully, I think [Robert Whittaker] deserves it. You know what I'll do? I'll f*cking let [Sean Strickland] fight him. Just because I want to hear that press conference.”
Bruno Silva Looking to Snap Losing Streak
Bruno Silva is one half of our co-main event and next up in this UFC Vegas 71 press conference piece. The Brazilian is riding a two fight losing streak, having lost to Gerald Meerschaert and former champion, Alex Pereira. Silva was also asked how he felt about this newly placed co-main event spot:
“It's good… People look at it and it's got some headline to it. More people see it and they're going to look at it closely. So, I'm very excited.”
The Brazilian was later asked about his plans beyond this fight. More specifically, if he's interested in fighting in Brazil when the UFC goes back there later this year.
“I really miss fighting in Brazil. There was that card in Brazil, obviously on January 21st, but I had just come off of surgery, so I didn't want to go through that. If the opportunity presents [itself], I would love to hop on that”.
Jared Gordon Believes Paddy Fans Now Love Him
Of course, we've got to talk about Jared Gordon.
The UFC Fight Night press conference needed to see him on a hot mic. His last fight stirred the pot quite a bit; most of the MMA community believed he won, and we've seen Paddy Pimblett perhaps, as they say in the wrestling industry (and the bread industry, I think), turn heel. That means he turned bad and as desirable as the end of the bread loaf.
Gordon was asked about the beef between himself and ‘The Baddy' intermittently throughout media day, as well as about everyday since the Paddy fight happened. Gordon said:
“His fans are my fans now.”
Bouncing off of the momentum that the Pimblett fight earned Jared, the UFC placed him against Bobby Green. What were Jared's initial thoughts on this match up?
“Ah sh*t, he's f*cking good.”
That's very well put when talking about Bobby Green. Gordon went on, though:
“He's a veteran, man. And, he's really good; he's beat a lot of really good guys. He's got great boxing, he's got great, underrated wrestling, great takedown defense… it's going to be a puzzle for me.”