After a short break, the UFC returns with their 28th event held at the Apex Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. A heavyweight bout headlines the card, with two hard-hitting strikers both looking to return to winning ways—Rozenstruik vs. Sakai.
Jairzinho ‘Bigi Boy’ Rozenstruik
Jairzinho Rozenstruik is an interesting anomaly in the heavyweight division. He has elite striking credentials and certified knockout power. However, he also tends to wait for his opponent to come to him. This is on account of Rozenstruik’s high-level counter game.
Rozenstruik’s ability to counter in such a devastating fashion comes as both an advantage and a disadvantage. His check hook counters have led to multiple knockout stoppages, with the stoppage against Andrei Arlovski especially notable. Unfortunately, Rozenstruik has become dependant on the counter, meaning that if an opponent refuses to engage with him, he has little output. This was exactly the case against Ciryl Gane, who realized what Rozenstruik was looking for and adapted to implement a ranged fighting game, picking him apart with a jab and low kicks for five rounds.
Rozenstruik has the kickboxing skills and athleticism to give much of the heavyweight division trouble. He needs to learn how to apply it in more than just the counter.
Augusto Sakai is another interesting fighter in the heavyweight division. He does not have the clean KO power of the Ngannou’s and Lewis’ of the division, nor does he have the ground game one might attribute Curtis Blaydes or Alexey Oleynik.
Instead, he employs a pressure game that increases over rounds. His Muay Thai is of a high level, and his Thai clinch has led to the demise of many an opponent. Sakai is also very effective at using his own weight against his opponents. If he can gain any top position, Sakai will lean his full body weight on his opponent while simultaneously raining down strikes.
However, Sakai showed definitive flaws in his game against Alistair Overeem in his last UFC fight. Overeem was able to dominate the fight on the ground, whilst Sakai appeared to begin to struggle with his cardio.
This is a hard fight to predict in that there are several unpredictable variables likely to surface. Firstly, will Rozenstruik’s counter game work against Sakai’s clinch attempts. Sakai will often use a flurry of strikes as a smokescreen to enter the classic that clinch, from where he will begin to land knees and dirty boxing. Rozenstruik may counter Sakai as he attempts to enter the clinch, but if he fails to do so, how will Rozenstruik fare in the clinch exchanges?
The second question is will either fighter look to bring the fight to the mat. Both men, especially Sakai, are dominant when in top position. However, they have both had issues with being on the bottom. If either man gets a takedown, they may well have huge success with ground and pound.
Rozenstruik is arguably the better striker out of the two. However, his tendencies of refusing to be the aggressor may well limit him again in this fight. Sakai has the tools to make this a ranged fight, with front kicks, low kicks, and jabs all staples of his arsenal.
UFC Vegas 28
Whilst not the most stacked card in terms of name-value, UFC Vegas 28 does have multiple fan-friendly fights that promise excitement and violence. UK fighters Tom Breese and Mason Jones both feature, whilst a heavyweight co-main between Walt Harris and Marcin Tybura promise fireworks.