UFC Saudi Arabia: After Alexander Volkov Wins Battle of Friends-Turned-Foe, Sergei Pavlovich Pushes Him Away

Sergei Pavlovich and Alexander Volkov, UFC Saudi Arabia
Sergei Pavlovich and Alexander Volkov, UFC Saudi Arabia ceremonial weigh-in Credit: Youtube/UFC

Top heavyweight contenders Sergei Pavlovich and Alexander Volkov co-main evented UFC Saudi Arabia on Saturday.

Although controversy followed the fights announcement because the pair are friends and training partners who did not want to fight, the bout still went down. Pavlovich was coming off his first loss in five years in his interim title bout in 2023, while Volkov had won three in a row by finish, bringing his UFC record to 11-4, though it would improve even more after outdueling Sergei.

Pavlovich came out working behind his lead hand while he felt out the range, while the taller kickboxer Volkov kicked and jabbed, staying long. The striking stayed fairly even without either monstrous man being hurt bad for the duration of the first round, though the height and long kicks of Volkov helped him land slightly more strikes as Pavlovich tried to pressure him.

Sergei had to find a way to consistently get inside on Volkov in round two, however Alexander was able to slow the pace down as his hulk of an opponent got slowly more tired. Both legs, from both stances, controlled the distance between them with a wide variety of kicks: front, side, oblique, roundhouse, and leg kicks. Pavlovich did land his biggest shot yet with about a minute left, but it was likely not enough to steal him the round.

The final round saw both fighters slow down another level as their huge bodies grew tired. Pavlovich had spurts when he went from it, but with his unvaried striking he often hit more of Volkov’s high guard than his actual head or body. Sergei had more success than in previous rounds, as ‘Drago’ played more of a defensive strategy with his presumed two round lead. Still, Pavlovich ran into the jab a lot which bloodied his already red-masked face even more. They swung to the bell to end the bout, as many other fighters have lately. Sergei landed a hook but Volkov half-landed a head kick followed by a hook as well before the horn sounded.

After the fight, during the commercial break, Pavlovich apparently pushed his former friend Volkov in anger when Alexander went to embrace him, sparking confusion.

It seemed Volkov had won the fight after three hard-fought rounds, but the bout had been close enough that some tension pervaded the arena as the decision awaited. He ended up winning on all scorecards, and then explained that he was not sure why Pavlovich pushed him in anger immediately after the fight, as the two had been friends before.

Official Result: Alexander Volkov def. Sergei Pavlovich by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)