Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight knockout artists Junior dos Santos and Jairzinho Rozenstruik this weekend (Sat., Aug. 15, 2020) at UFC 252 inside UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Dos Santos has been in somewhat of an odd situation for years now. He tends to lose to Top 5-ranked opposition more often than not, and he rides a two-fight losing streak into this bout. However, dos Santos still turns away a majority of up-and-comers, picking up at least one big win just often enough to keep him in the mix. Alternatively, Rozenstruik is far too new to the promotion to have settled into any type of pattern. “Bigi Boy” will attempt to rebound from the first loss of his professional mixed martial arts (MMA) career, but if he can manage to return to the win column, he’s right back in title contention.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Junior dos Santos
Key Wins: Stipe Miocic (UFC on FOX 13), Cain Velasquez (UFC on FOX 1), Derrick Lewis (UFC Fight Night 146), Ben Rothwell (UFC Fight Night 86), Mark Hunt (UFC 160)
Key Losses: Cain Velasquez (UFC 155, UFC 166), Stipe Miocic (UFC 211), Francis Ngannou (UFC on ESPN 3), Alistair Overeem (UFC on FOX 17), Curtis Blaydes (UFC Fight Night 166)
Keys to Victory: If there’s one thing no one can knock about “JDS,” it’s the Brazilian’s level of competition. He’s faced a “Who’s Who” of Heavyweights for a decade now, denying takedowns and sticking long jabs in the faces of many of the division’s best fighters.
In small gloves, there is a chance that dos Santos can simply time his overhand and shut off the lights. After all, that’s what he did to win the title, and the veteran still hits plenty hard. However, against a man with so much kickboxing experience, it seems foolhardy to not at least try to mix in some actual MMA aspects.
Think back some years to the Brazilian’s bout with Mark Hunt: dos Santos can run through a nice double leg! Mixing in some takedowns or clinch work would be a great idea, even if the end purpose is only to help set up the overhand. Additionally, mixing in a couple Ngannou-esque charges wouldn’t be a bad idea — defense is simply different in four-ounce gloves.
Key Wins: Alistair Overeem (UFC on ESPN 7), Andrei Arlovski (UFC 244), Junior Albini (UFC Fight Night 144), Allen Crowder (UFC Fight Night 154)
Key Losses: Francis Ngannou (UFC 249)
Keys to Victory: Rozenstruik is a tremendous striker, a man with 80-some professional kickboxing bouts to his credit. Thus far, his takedown defense has held up well, and he’s required little beyond his check hook to sit most opponents down in a hurry.
In the few seconds before Ngannou ran “Bigi Boy” over, I liked what I saw. He was jabbing actively and kicking the lead leg, simultaneously working to control range and start picking his foe apart. He was more active than usual ... until the bulldozing.
All that sounds great against dos Santos! Since so few Heavyweights bother to jab, “JDS” is relatively accustomed to winning that battle easily. If Rozenstruik is jabbing back or chopping at the leg when dos Santos does extend with his lead hand, it should disrupt the Brazilian’s rhythm a bit.
Otherwise, it’s well-known that dos Santos backs up in a straight line and falls apart when hitting the fence. Adding some rolling hooks into his offense wouldn’t be a bad idea, nor would exploding into combination any time dos Santos nears the cage (which may be often in the small UFC APEX cage).
One man’s status takes a hit, the other leaves a contender.
What does the future hold at Heavyweight? If Cormier wins on Saturday night, there’s a chance the belt remains vacant. Alternatively, if Miocic comes out on top, Francis Ngannou appears pretty firmly next-in-line ... unless Jon Jones jumps into play. It’s all a mess, but with a vacant belt appearing distinctly possible, it’s a good time to be in the win column.
If things play out the right way, victory here could mean a title shot or title eliminator bout next.
Alternatively, a loss does hurt. For dos Santos, a third consecutive defeat this late in his career might finally send him out of Top 5. That said, Andrei Arlovski still fights and wins, so who’s to say he could not rebound again? Meanwhile, Rozenstruik came in hot and rose quickly, but two straight knockout losses would certainly hurt his hype and momentum.
It’s one thing to get blasted by Ngannou, but losing to 2020 “JDS” definitely lowers the expectations a bit.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 252 fight card this weekend right here, starting with the ESPN+/Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN+/ESPN at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC 252: “Miocic vs. Cormier 3” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.
At UFC 252, Junior dos Santos and Jairzinho Rozenstruik will trade bombs. Which man remains standing when the dust settles?