The heavyweights battle it out in Saturday’s headliner from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.
After a week away, the UFC returns for the first of 13 Saturday nights of action over the next three months, including every Saturday in June, starting this weekend with UFC Vegas 28 from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. Coverage of this event begins live at an early starting time of 4 pm ET/1 pm PT on ESPN+ (United States only check local listings elsewhere), with main card action following from UFC Vegas 28 at 7 pm ET/ 4 pm PT.
In total, this event will feature a 14-fight slate, highlighted by a main attraction at heavyweight between No. 6 contender Jairzinho Rozenstruik (11-2) and No. 9 contender Augusto Sakai (15-1-1), a five-round bout at five minutes per round to cap the evening’s proceedings in Vegas.
Sakai was originally booked to fight Shamil Abdurakhimov on May 1 during UFC Vegas 25 at the UFC Apex but was rebooked to fight here in the main event of UFC Vegas 28 this weekend.
How They Got Here
Rozenstruik enters UFC Vegas 28 on Saturday night having gone 3-2 in his last five UFC appearances, having most recently lost to No. 3 contender Ciryl Gane via unanimous decision during the Feb. 27 UFC Vegas 20 main event from the Apex facility.
During the run-up to UFC Vegas 28, Rozenstruik stated that he was looking to get the bad taste out of his mouth from the Gane fight, saying:
“I couldn’t get loose in that fight. I’m still improving and training hard and I got another opportunity to make it right and looking forward to June 5. Not only because of the loss, if I won, but I also wanted a quick turnaround.”
In the other corner, Sakai comes into UFC Vegas 28 on Saturday night on the strength of a 4-1 record in his last five UFC appearances, but he has not fought since just before Labor Day last year, when on Sept. 4, he sustained a fifth-round knockout at the hands of now-retired Alistair Overeem during the UFC Vegas 9 main attraction on ESPN+.
Heading into the main attraction, Sakai was, like Rozenstruik, looking to shake off the cobwebs on Saturday, saying:
“Unfortunately, my winning streak was broken. But that’s part of the game. The night against Overeem was a time for me to learn. I left a few openings that Overeem was able to exploit by landing his strikes. It took me out of my strategy. It was a big lesson. Now we’ve made many corrections. We’re coming back stronger.
UFC Vegas 28 Main Event Analysis
Heading into UFC Vegas 28 on Saturday night, Jairzinho Rozenstruik is the taller combatant, standing 6-foot-4, with Augusto Sakai standing 6-foot-3. The sixth-ranked Rozenstruik owns a one-inch reach advantage (78 inches to 77 inches) over the ninth-ranked Sakai, with Sakai owning a one-inch leg reach advantage (42 inches to 41 inches) over Rozenstruik going into this headlining bout on Saturday.
Quite simply, this is a fight between two men at the exact same crossroads, with both of them coming off of losses.
For Rozenstruik, he comes in off of a loss against an up-and-coming fighter in the form of Ciryl Gane, and as for Sakai, he’s coming in having been knocked out by a retired fighter in Alistair Overeem late last summer.
In my opinion, this fight will be determined almost exclusively by which of the two fighters comes out of the gates looking to make an immediate impact on the bout. Another aspect of the fight I’m interested in here is the fact that Rozenstruik will be the fresher of the two combatants going into this one.
Rozenstruik will be three months and one week removed from his last UFC appearance when he enters the famed Octagon this weekend, compared to a nine-month and one-day stretch between appearances for Sakai by the time the main event commences on Saturday night.
The big question is how much ring rust does Sakai have going into UFC Vegas 28 on Saturday night?
If he is unable to shake off the ring rust quickly and efficiently in the main event, Saturday figures to be a long, long night for Augusto Sakai.
This looks to be a very winnable fight for the kickboxer Rozenstruik, provided that he does not fall victim to a takedown from Sakai, who practices Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Sakai has recorded 11 career knockout victories heading into the main attraction this weekend, a number of them happening because he landed devastating ground and pound strikes after dumping his opponent.
This could very well be a striker’s delight over the weekend– and this also begs another question of could Rozenstruik’s stand-up game counter Sakai’s offensive prowess on the mat?
Sakai struggled mightily in his most recent appearance against Overeem on the feet, so if he is to have any chance at a victory here, he needs to shoot for the takedown as a means of stopping Rozenstruik’s kickboxing to open up flurries of ground and pound shots from the top position.
He could also use takedowns to his advantage by accumulating ride time from the top position– and he doesn’t necessarily have to hunt for a submission (which he has yet to record going into UFC Vegas 28) to get this win on Saturday night.
If he lands takedowns effectively here and advances on them, Sakai can turn the tide and stun Rozenstruik over the weekend.
Also of note here: A number of Rozenstruik’s wins in kickboxing were scored by knockout or TKO (64 to be exact), a trend that continued into his MMA career, where he’s finished 10 of his 11 victories by this method.
But let’s not kid ourselves here: These two men are excellent strikers, both of whom are capable of ending the night with as little as a single shot– and since this is a heavyweight bout, anything can happen.
Prediction: Jairzinho Rozenstruik by TKO. UFC Vegas 28
Follow me on Twitter at @DrewZuhosky to see my latest work. Also, follow us on social media at @OTHeroicsMMA to stay tuned in with our content! Please visit our web page to keep up with everything MMA
Featured Image Credits to Embed from Getty Images and Embed from Getty Images