Our third last fight of the night features Heavyweight titans and potential title contenders, Junior Dos Santos (#5) and Jairzinho Rozenstruik (#6). This is a mouth-watering clash between two of the most powerful and technical heavyweights in the UFC today.
Both men will no doubt have their eyes on the result of the main event just a few hours later. They will hope to put on a clinic to put their names in the mix for a shot at the winner of DC/Stipe. A standout performance could result in a title shot or get them one more win away from fighting for UFC gold. Particularly with the level of uncertainty in the HW division as of late.
And interestingly, the pair both fight out of American Top Team, so they’ll want individual bragging rights.
Junior Dos Santos Background
JDS is a man that needs no announcement. He’s a former UFC Heavyweight Champion and has been atop of the rankings for most of his career. However, although he’s one of the biggest names in the Heavyweight division, he’s had a turbulent run of results over the last several years. Since beating Cain Velasquez back in 2011 to win the belt, he’s gone from 14-1 to 21-7. This isn’t as worrisome as it seems though, as he’s been fighting against top-10 contenders for over a decade.
However, at the age of 36, he’s lacked consistency and is coming off two (T)KO losses against Francis Ngannou and Curtis Blaydes. And with the UFC having more depth than ever at Heavyweight, his consistency (or lack of) is a concern if he’s to try and make a run for the belt again. With that said, JDS has fought the biggest names in the sport. Since 2008, he’s fought Fabricio Werdum, Stefan Struve, Mirko Cro Cop, Gabriel Gonzaga, Roy Nelson, Shane Carwin, Velasquez (twice), Frank Mir, Derrick Lewis, Alistair Overeem and current HW champ, Stipe Miocic (twice).
The above is a list of who’s who at Heavyweight. If you’re one of the best heavyweights in the UFC, you’ve almost certainly fought JDS. That highlights his ability as well as his nature. JDS will fight anyone; any time and he’s got the capabilities to beat anyone on his day. That said, Rozenstruik is a fearsome opponent that has finished 9 out of his 10 wins via (T)KO. Having lost 3 out of his last 6 via TKO, this has got to be a major concern for JDS coming into this weekend.
Jairzinho Rozenstruik Background
While Jairzinho (Jair) has just under a third of the amount of pro-MMA fights as JDS, he is arguably the latter’s worse match-up since Miocic in 2017. And at 11-1 now, Rozenstruik is a perfect example of how insignificant records can be in MMA. Prior to making his professional MMA debut, he had won several kickboxing championships and accumulated an absurd record of 76-8-1 with 64 (T)KO’s.
He is coming off his first loss in his MMA career though. The KO punch that Ngannou landed was frightening. In his entire combat sports career, Rozenstruik had never gone out like that. This is something JDS will certainly have at the forefront of his mind. However, although Jair felt the force of Francis Ngannou early this year, he was one of the few men brave and confident enough to even ask for that fight. That alone highlights his hunger to fight and beat the best.
Prior to the Ngannou loss though, he made his UFC debut in February 2019. What followed? Four straight (T)KO’s against Junior Albini, Allen Crowder (in *9* seconds), Andrei Arlovski and then he stopped Alistair Overeem with four seconds left in the fifth round. This exemplified how dangerous he is, regardless of how late it is in the fight. Overeem looked to be in complete control before Jair landed a devastating right hand that separated Overeem from his consciousness… as well as his top lip.
Both JDS and Rozenstruik are heavy, heavy hitters, but they are also technically gifted. Most Heavyweight bouts can look sloppy at times, but this could very well be a chess-match early on.
JDS will likely try to close the distance to enable him to get inside the pocket to box. JDS has some of the best boxing at HW and his last three (T)KO’s have all come from punches. For a man of his size, he has fast hands and good footwork that enables him to control range. Being in the pocket may not be the best approach against Jair however. Overeem laid out the blueprint to beat Rozenstruick, so If he can adopt a similar game plan, this is where he can find success.
Dos Santos loves leading with a light jab and then follows up with his main power punch, the overhand right. If he causes damage, he backs his opponent up against the cage rapidly. Then he unloads with combinations to the head and body. But if the straight hand doesn’t get you, he has equal power in his left-hook and throws vicious uppercuts. Like the one he kissed Werdum’s chin with back in 2008.
And at 6”4, he has a unique ability to throw spinning attacks. He mixes things up with kicks. He likes to chop down the lead leg of his opponents, but he also throws a variety of spinning kicks that are tough to predict. The spinning back-kick against Lewis that landed flush hurt him badly to the body and seemed to come out of nowhere. And who can forget about the spinning-hook-kick that finished Mark Hunt in 2013?
JDS has multiple tools at his disposal and always looks to finish the fight. Of his 21 wins, he has 15 (T)KO victories, all of them as ruthless as the next. The one area of potential weakness in his game is his wrestling, but that’s mainly because he rarely needs to use it. He likely won’t need to worry about that facing Jair but may look to mix some wrestling in against him. If JDS is on the song though, he’ll want to keep the fight standing and land what he needs to close the show.
For Jair, he is one of the most decorated kickboxers in the UFC today. We haven’t really had the opportunity to see that so far though. Prior to the Overeem win, Rozenstruik had a combined fight time of 6 minutes and 30 seconds, so we haven’t seen him in full flow yet.
What we have seen from Rozenstruik is the “death touch”. On debut, he didn’t even land flush on Albini’s chin and still dropped him before finishing. He then sat Crowder down in a daze with a check-jab and barely looked as if he had touched Arlovski before Arlovski’s cornermen were picking him up from the canvass.
This screams of trouble for Dos Santos. RDS has taken a lot of punishment over his career and his chin has succumbed to power punchers in the past. If Rozenstruik can pick his moments and patiently find an opening as he did against Overeem, he has every chance of adding another KO to his list.
A big hole in Rozenstruik’s game that Dos Santos should look to capitalize on is his grappling. While JDS isn’t renowned for his wrestling ability, he certainly holds the upper hand in that department. He would be wise to mix in some wrestling and engage in the clinch to wear on Rozenstruik and keep him honest. If he engages in a stand-up contest with Jair for 3 rounds, he leaves himself open to that one punch that can turn his lights off.
As previously mentioned, this may start slowly, but if and when it picks up, it’s going to be violent. These men throw with such veracity that it’s hard to see this ending any other way but (T)KO. Both can be hittable at times too, so we’re likely going to see some gargantuan exchanges. Particularly as the fight takes place in the Apex. The one fear is that the pair are too respectful of each other’s power, but with both coming off losses, they can’t afford to put on a lackluster display.
This is a tough one to predict though, as we don’t know the full effects of the KO that Rozenstruik fell to against Ngannou. He’s coming off his first career loss in the most devastating fashion. Will this impact his confidence? Will Rozenstruik be as confident as he usually is?
There’s no way of knowing, but Rozenstruik has so much experience under his belt, you’d have to imagine that he will have put that behind him. On the flip side, Rozenstruik may be more reluctant to press forward which has often resulted in heavyweight “snoozefests” in the past.
For JDS, it’s now or never. He’s inching toward 40 and although that’s not irregular at Heavyweight, a third straight loss for the first time in his career would be devastating. JDS has got to pick his moments wisely and not get lured into a slugfest.
Rozenstruik looks to be favorite on paper, despite JDS being as good as he is. Jair carries similar power to Ngannou and if he fights smart initially, he can open JDS up late in the first or early in the second. However, both men only need one punch and that’s likely what it will come down to.
Rozenstruik via TKO (round 2)
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