Fan-favorite heavyweight contender Tai Tuivasa will reportedly be getting back into action before the end of the year. Farah Hannoun of MMA Junkie reported on Tuesday that Tuivasa will face Sergei Pavlovich in the co-main event on December 3 at UFC Orlando.
After suffering a TKO loss to former interim champion Ciryl Gane in September, Tuivasa gets back into high-ranked competition in his fight against Pavlovich. Currently, Tai Tuivasa ranks fourth in the heavyweight division while Pavlovich is fifth. With the top of the heavyweight division on hold due to the recovery of champion Francis Ngannou, the fight between Tuivasa and Pavlovich will serve not just as a placeholder for the winner inside the Top-5 rankings, but the winner could also be just a couple wins away from a title fight opportunity.
Before his loss to Gane in September, Tai Tuivasa had a five-fight winning streak picking up wins over Derrick Lewis, Augusto Sakai, Greg Hardy among others. During his winning run, Tuivasa picked up five finishes, three of which came in the first round.
Sergei Pavlovich has a 16-1 professional record and his lone loss came in his UFC promotional debut against Alistair Overeem back in 2018. Since that loss, Pavlovich has put together a four-fight winning streak with his most recent wins coming earlier this year against Shamil Abdurakhimov and Derrick Lewis. After missing fights in 2020 and 2021 due to visa issues and injuries, Pavlovich is looking to end 2022 on a three-fight win streak in the calendar year and improve his ranking in the division.
The top of the UFC’s heavyweight division is one that many are watching but not much is happening due to multiple reasons, including the aforementioned injury history to the champion. There’s the pending arrival of former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, although nothing has been scheduled, it is speculated he will face former champion Stipe Miocic. That leaves Ciryl Gane and Curtis Blaydes as the only higher ranked fighters in the division, and Gane has been vocal about his desire to face Ngannou once again.
Whoever is victorious between Tai Tuivasa and Sergei Pavlovich will likely set themselves up for a major contender fight following their matchup on December 3.
Here is the currently scheduled lineup for UFC Orlando:
- Stephen Thompson vs Kevin Holland
- Tai Tuivasa vs Sergei Pavlovich
- Derek Brunson vs Jack Hermansson
- Rafael dos Anjos vs Bryan Barberena
- Matheus Nicolau vs Matt Schnell
- Angela Hill vs Emily Ducote
- Tracy Cortez vs Amanda Ribas
- Clay Guida vs Scott Holtzman
- Michael Johnson vs Marc Diakiese
- Darren Elkins vs Jonathan Pearce
- Eryk Anders vs Kyle Daukaus
- Yazmin Jauregui vs Istela Nunes
- Natan Levy vs Genaro Valdez
- Francis Marshall vs Marcelo Rojo
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