While Pavlovich (18-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC) fights Saturday at Madison Square Garden for an interim championship, the moment feels undisputed for the hulking Russian fighter.
“For me, this is the legit title,” Pavlovich told MMA Junkie and other reporters through an interpreter at a news conference Wednesday.
“I was training,” Pavlovich said, of when he got the call. “This was my second practice in the day. After my second practice, I went out to the park just to take a stroll. My manager Ali (Abdelaziz) called me and said, ‘I have great news. Here it is.’ I didn’t think much. I just said yes.”
Currently on a six-fight winning streak, Pavlovich ran through the likes of Derrick Lewis, Tai Tuivasa, and Curtis Blaydes in his most recent three fights. Although Aspinall self-describes as a different sort of matchup, Pavlovich isn’t fazed.
“If you look, or Tom looks at my past opponents, they’re all tough, durable, strong guys,” Pavlovich said. “So, I think now Tom is the next step in front of me. He’s the next step that I have to take to get further. If you look at me, if you look at what I do, we train hard to make sure we achieve that next goal.”
Should he win by knockout at UFC 295, Pavlovich will tie Chuck Liddell’s record of seven consecutive fights won by knockout. The accomplishment would just serve as more reassurance that Pavlovich is making the right moves.
“When it comes to the fight itself, there’s going to be two big dudes, strong dudes, fighting each other,” Pavlovich said. “We don’t know what is going to happen but it’s going to be a good fight. Then the fact that I’m tying a legend possibly on Saturday, that means I’m achieving some other goals, some other goals that I set for myself, putting myself in the ranks of the greatest.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 295.