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UFC on ESPN 7 card: Alistair Overeem vs Jairzinho Rozenstruik full fight preview

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Overeem vs Pavlovich Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight knockout artists Alistair Overeem and Jairzinho Rozenstruik will clash TONIGHT (Dec. 7, 2019) at UFC on ESPN 7 from inside Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C.

It’s not often that men with such extensive kickboxing backgrounds meet inside the Octagon. Overeem once won a K-1 Grand Prix, while Rozenstruik has 76 professional wins to his record: safe to say, these men can crack. However, Overeem is the far more experienced grappler and mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter. Yet, Rozenstruik is much younger and likely more durable. All these factors make for quite an interesting contest, even before one remembers that one punch or kick could always end it all in an instant.

Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:

Alistair Overeem

Record: 45-17 (1)
Key Wins: Fabricio Werdum (UFC 213, Strikeforce: Overeem vs Werdum), Junior dos Santos (UFC on FOX 17), Brock Lesnar (UFC 141), Mark Hunt (UFC 209, Dream 5)
Key Losses: Stipe Miocic (UFC 203), Francis Ngannou (UFC 218), Curtis Blaydes (UFC 225), Ben Rothwell (UFC Fight Night 50)
Keys to Victory: One could certainly argue that Overeem is the most technical/well-rounded Heavyweight in MMA history. “The Reem” is a dangerous kickboxer with multiple striking styles, a formidable grappler with 17 tapout victories, and definitely an underrated wrestler too.

The strategy could not be more clear here for Alistair Overeem: take this man down! Yeah, “Reem” is also a badass striker himself, but why play that game when it’s unnecessary? Rozenstruik hits stupid hard, and there simply isn’t a need to take chances here.

Furthermore, Overeem has been using his wrestling more anyway, a likely result of working more with Curtis Blaydes at Elevation Fight Team. On his current two-fight win streak, he threw Sergei Pavlovich to the mat and smashed him, and his knockout of Aleksei Oleinik came entirely from clinch work.

Jairzinho Rozenstruik

Record: 9-0
Key Wins: Andrei Arlovski (UFC 244), Junior Albini (UFC Fight Night 144), Allen Crowder (UFC Fight Night 154)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: “Bigi Boy” hits seriously hard. His last two bouts inside the Octagon ended in the same sequence, as Rozenstruik parried a jab and slapped a left hook upside his opponents’ temple, sending them to the mat. Despite his skill, Overeem does have a habit of lunging in behind power punches, and that same counter could come into play here.

If Overeem’s objective here is to get this fight to the mat, it should be self-explanatory that Rozenstruik really wants a striking match. To that end, Rozenstruik wants distance. From the kickboxing range and in the pocket, Rozenstruik has a real chance in every exchange of ending the fight. Meanwhile, in the clinch, he’d be at real risk of eating a game-changing knee or being taken down.

Luckily, Rozenstruik has a particularly sharp jab, and he should use it here. Overeem likes to move around and be tricky on the outside, but that’s exhausting, and a smart, patient jab from a stalking Rozenstruik will eventually create major opportunities for “Bigi Boy.”

Bottom Line: This is going to be an awesome fight.

Alistair Overeem is still aiming for UFC gold, and at 39 years of age, there’s really no time for any more missteps. “The Demolition Man” is a legend of the sport and Heavyweight division, but each loss to a Heavyweight younger than him makes it more unlikely he’ll ever find his way to another UFC title fight. If Overeem does have one last run in him, it has to be part of the win streak he already started.

Defeat likely moves Overeem closer to retirement.

As for Rozenstruik, there’s much to gain and little to lose. At 31 years old and just nine fights into his professional MMA career, the Surinamese athlete is still extremely young for the division and in the sport overall. If he defeats Overeem, he’s instantly a contender, and perhaps his request for a bout with Francis Ngannou will payoff. If not, there’s no shame in losing to Overeem, and Rozenstruik will get other opportunities in the future.

At UFC on ESPN 7, Alistair Overeem and Jairzinho Rozenstruik will battle in the main event. Which man will earn the victory?

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