UFC Vegas 28: Jairzinho Rozenstruik vs Augusto Sakai | DieHardMMA Previews
By: Clint MacLean (@DieHardMMAPod)
UFC Vegas 28 features some big boys and some heavy hitters. Both the co-main and main event have heavyweight warriors going to battle and some of the hardest hitters that the UFC has to offer. The Main Event is a crossroads fight where Jairzinho is battling to keep his status as a contender, and Augusto Sakai is trying to take that slot. With these big boys, this fight could be a long, low-paced technical striking match or a fast don’t-blink KO. It should be a good one.
Jairzinho Rozenstruik (-130)
33 years old
11 – 2
91% finish rate
10 wins by KO/TKO
There are three big hitters in the UFC. The top of the food chain is the king Francis Ngannou, but that number two slot can be debated between Derrick Lewis and Jairzinho Rozenstruik. Jarizinho is a powerful and explosive man who had an impressive kickboxing career and transitioned seamlessly into the sport of MMA. Jairzinho is 1-2 in his last three, but his two losses have come at the hands of the UFC’s heavyweight champion and future GOAT Francis Ngannou and the ever-impressive Cyril Gane, who looks like he is headed for title contention himself. Jairzinho is a man who is more than capable of ending a fight at any point, and even though he is coming off of a disappointing and dull loss to Gane, you cannot blink when this man fights.
Augusto Sakai (+110)
30 years old
15 – 2
73% finish rate
11 wins by KO/TKO
The UFC may have stolen the best heavyweight prospect Bellator had to offer when they signed Augusto Sakai. The big man is fast and athletic and brings an exciting style to the cage every time he fights. Since his win on Dana White’s Contender Series in 2018, Sakai was undefeated in the UFC until he ran into Alistair Overeem and felt the weight of that veteran experience. Sakai is looking to bounce back, and he is going to have to do everything with intent because one mistake could be deadly.
Augusto Sakai is a fighter who I am a huge fan of inside the cage. He has fast hands and big clinch knees, which he can melt lesser competition with. Even though he is big and athletic, Sakai seems to do well with getting tired and forcing himself to continue to perform. Honestly, Sakai has had a fantastic run in the UFC, and even though he got by Ivanov and Arlovski via questionable split decisions, he has proven that he belongs.
While Augusto Sakai took the slow build path, Jairzinho is a man who the UFC decided to fast track. Rozenstruik entered the UFC in 2019. After two KOs in under 30 seconds, he was immediately given Alistair Overeem, who he ended in the closing seconds of a 25-minute battle he was losing. Jairzinho is a man who may have fallen in love with his own power. That sounds strange to say because, in both his kickboxing and MMA careers, all he does is knock people out, but in his last few fights, it was almost like he was waiting for the shot to come rather than setting it up himself.
After dropping an understandable KO loss to Francis Ngannou and a decision loss to Ciryl Gane where Rozenstruik couldn’t find the elusive fighter to land a shot, we should expect a change-up in his game. In recent interviews, Rozenstruik has talked about how he needs to get back to being first. Watching his last four fights in the UFC, you can see that he has taken the role of a counter striker and when he cannot find the perfect shot, he has paid for it. I know you cannot always buy into what fighters say, but this is a man who I believe when he says he plans to be more aggressive when you combine Rozenstruik’s KO ability and his opponents’ tendency to close the range and force a firefight that opens a lot of opportunities for the power to show up.
This fight is relatively simple to me. Augusto Sakai brings the fight. That is exactly the kind of man that Jairzinho needs to let his power shine on the big stage. Sakai is a good striker, but I don’t know that he is better than Rozenstruik, and even though we have seen him deep in the championship rounds before, we have seen him slow down. I’m not particularly eager to make a habit of betting on KO-dependent fighters. Still, I believe that Rozenstruik will both have more opportunities to land that big bomb and, due to his style, will force Sakai to play a more cautious game which could allow him to win a decision. I know, call me crazy, but if Rozenstruik gets back to his kickboxing roots and doesn’t headhunt, he can go 25 minutes, and he could land the more impactful shots and take this on the judge’s cards. I’ll roll with Big Boy to bounce back.