On Saturday night, the octagon touches down at the T Mobile Arena for the biggest UFC card of the year as Alexander Volkanovski defends his featherweight strap in the main event against Brian Ortega.
UFC 266 features 14 mouth-watering bouts which include the heavily anticipated return of Nick Diaz and a championship doubleheader. On the main card, two of the top heavyweight elites look to get back into championship contention as Jairzinho ‘Bigi Boy’ Rozenstruik collides with Curtis ‘Razor’ Blaydes.
Jairzinho Rozenstruik makes his 3rd UFC appearance of 2021 this Saturday after losing to Ciryl Gane in February before bouncing back in spectacular fashion against Augusto Sakai in June.
The 33-year-old is currently ranked 6th in the heavyweight division with a professional record of 12-2 with both of those losses coming against Francis Ngannou and Ciryl Gane who will fight each other for the heavyweight strap in the coming months.
Despite falling agonizingly short to the champion and interim champion in the division, Bigi Boy holds victories over some of the best heavyweights in UFC history. For example, Junior Dos Santos, Alistair Overeem, and Andrei Arlovski are some of the names on his stacked CV.
In the other corner of the octagon stands Curtis Blaydes, who is one of the most dangerous fighters in the heavyweight division due to his well-roundedness and versatility.
In the early stages of his career, Blaydes held an amateur record of 8-0 before turning professional in 2014. Blaydes took his local circuit by storm by stringing 5 TKO victories together before signing for the UFC in 2016.
Unfortunately for ‘Razor’ Blaydes, in his UFC debut, he collided against an up-and-comer called Francis Ngannou. Ever heard of him? Thought so. Blaydes lost the fight via TKO at the conclusion of the second round due to doctors’ stoppage.
Despite getting off the worst possible start in the world’s biggest organization, Blaydes went undefeated in 6 fights which allowed him to cement wins over the likes of Aleksei Oleinik, Mark Hunt, and Alistair Overeem before losing to Ngannou in their rematch.
The 30-year-old makes his 2nd walk of 2021 after being brutally knocked out by Derrick Lewis in the main event at UFC Fight Night 185. Blaydes came into the bout as a big bookies favourite with most spectators expecting a dominant mauling. However, an attempted takedown was met with an uppercut sent from the gods which forced referee Herb Dean to call a stop to the contest.
When the two heavyweights are locked in the octagon on Saturday night, I expect to see Curtis Blaydes close the distance and back Rozenstruik up against the fence in order of securing that all-important takedown. If Blaydes can secure a takedown, he may find himself in possession of a TKO or submission finish.
As a result of the pressure, Rozenstruik will look to land a counter haymaker which could easily see Blaydes on the canvas and unconscious. However, backing up against Blaydes may be the perfect recipe for being suplexed and elbowed unconscious.
When looking at this match-up, stylistically, I believe this fight will look a lot like Derrick Lewis vs Curtis Blaydes. It’s a classic matchup of wrestling vs power. When Blaydes fought Lewis, it was the fan favorite who delivered the fight ending punch.
Routes to Victory
- Fight behind his jab and set up combinations from there.
- Create his own offense and shouldn’t wait for Blaydes.
- Set up his takedowns with his jab and don’t make them so obvious.
- Throw in some leg kicks to take power from his opponent
- Force his opponent against the fence and drive for the takedown.
In this bout, it’s hard to look past the wrestling of Blaydes. If he can set his takedown shots up with a mixture of striking, he will secure a takedown and ultimately end the fight via TKO.
However, only one man can leave the octagon with their hand raised on Saturday night, and with both men in contention of a title shot, who will be the next warrior to battle for heavyweight glory?
Fight prediction: Curtis Blaydes via TKO.