Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will attempt to tighten up its ever-shrinking list of heavyweight title contenders with the titanic tilt between Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Ciryl Gane, scheduled for the upcoming UFC Vegas 20 main event tomorrow night (Sat., Feb. 27) inside the promotion’s APEX facility in Las Vegas, Nevada, streaming exclusively on ESPN+.
In the UFC Vegas 20 co-main event, streaking light heavyweight bruiser Magomed Ankalaev looks to continue his winning ways opposite 205-pound “Miner” Nikita Krylov, who finally ditched that goofy “Al Capone” nickname. No doubt Ankalaev, currently ranked No. 11, will be looking to take over Krylov’s No. 8 spot with an emphatic victory in “Sin City.”
Before we dive into the main and co-main events, be sure to check out the UFC Vegas 20 preliminary card breakdown expertly deconstructed by Patrick Stumberg here and here. Resident MMA champ Andrew Richardson did most of the heavy lifting for the rest of the main card right here. For the latest “Rozenstruik vs. Gane” odds and betting lines click here.
Let’s get to work ...
265 lbs.: Jairzinho Rozenstruik vs. Ciryl Gane
Jairzinho “Bigi Boy” Rozenstruik
Record: 11-1 | Age: 32 | Betting line: +225
Wins: 10 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 1 DEC | Losses: 1 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 0 DEC
Height: 6’4“ | Reach: 78” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 4.04 | Striking accuracy: 51%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 3.10 | Striking Defense: 36%
Takedown Average: 0.00 (0% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 75%
Current Ranking: No. 3 | Last fight: Technical knockout win over Junior dos Santos
Ciryl “Bon Gamin” Gane
Record: 7-0 | Age: 30 | Betting line: -265
Wins: 3 KO/TKO, 3 SUB, 1 DEC | Losses: 0 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 0 DEC
Height: 6’4“ | Reach: 81” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 5.61 | Striking accuracy: 54%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 1.95 | Striking Defense: 73%
Takedown Average: 1.08 (60% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 100%
Current Ranking: No. 7 | Last fight: Technical knockout win over Junior dos Santos
It’s kind of shocking to see heavyweight up-and-comer Ciryl Gane jump out to such a big betting favorite when you consider what he’s done thus far in UFC ... which to be honest, is not much. I know his finish over Junior dos Santos made headlines but let’s face it, “Cigano” has lost four in a row — all by knockout — and is no longer ranked in the division Top 10. Speaking of rankings, “Bon Gamin” (“Good Kid” in French) hasn’t beaten anyone ranked in the Top 15 outside of Dos Santos and yet somehow is sitting comfortably at No. 7 with just seven pro fights. Gane certainly has the physique of a heavyweight titan and it would be foolish to overlook his performances over Raphael Pessoa and Don’Tale Mayes, I’m just not convinced they were enough to construct this pedestal he’s been sitting on. I guess this fight will help us decide whether or not it was warranted.
I think you can make similar critiques of Jairzinho Rozenstruik, who like Gane, has done some impressive things in the 265-pound division against less-than-impressive competition. “Bigi Boy” also knocked out the shopworn Dos Santos and pulled off a Hail Mary against Alistair Overeem. It’s important to factor that into this equation because Rozenstruik was losing that fight before “Demolition Man’s” face exploded. The loss to Francis Ngannou doesn’t take much away from the Surinamese slugger because let’s face it, “The Predator” is one of the most dangerous fighters on the planet and ranked No. 1 for a reason. One thing that did impress me is Rozenstruik’s ability to shelve that highlight-reel knockout for his return against “Cigano,” because a performance like the one he had against Ngannou can often leave a fighter trapped in his own head for the next couple of fights.
Gane did not have to go through the gauntlet the way Rozenstruik did so it’s not fair to try to guess how he would have fared against the likes of Ngannou or Overeem. What I will say based on what we’ve seen thus far is that “Bon Gamin” is a more well-rounded athlete with far deeper toolbox. Rozenstruik has never even attempted a single takedown or submission in six trips to the Octagon but has been taken down four times, twice by Overeem and twice by Junior Albini. As for Gane, he’s already got two submissions in the bag and was three for three in takedowns against Don’Tale Mayes. It’s hard for me to envision Gane volunteering for a barroom brawl when he owns a clear advantage in so many other disciplines. Every fight starts on the feet, so no question there will be leather in the air, but unless Rozenstruik can replicate his laugher against Allen Crowder, Gane is going to bring this fight to the ground, where I expect him to do whatever he wants.
Prediction: Gane def. Rozenstruik by technical knockout
205 lbs.: Magomed Ankalaev vs. Nikita Krylov
Record: 14-1 | Age: 28 | Betting line: -340
Wins: 9 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 5 DEC | Losses: 0 KO/TKO, 1 SUB, 0 DEC
Height: 6’3“ | Reach: 75” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 3.58 | Striking accuracy: 56%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 1.36 | Striking Defense: 68%
Takedown Average: 0.62 (33% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 85%
Current Ranking: No. 11 | Last fight: Knockout win over Ion Cutelaba
Nikita “Miner” Krylov
Record: 27-7 | Age: 28 | Betting line: +280
Wins: 11 KO/TKO, 15 SUB, 1 DEC | Losses: 1 KO/TKO, 5 SUB, 1 DEC
Height: 6’3“ | Reach: 77” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 4.54 | Striking accuracy: 59%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 2.45 | Striking Defense: 41%
Takedown Average: 1.40 (38% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 52%
Current Ranking: No. 8 | Last fight: Unanimous decision win over Johnny Walker
The UFC light heavyweight division recently said goodbye to longtime champion Jon Jones, and before “Bones” set sail we also lost Daniel Cormier and Alexander Gustafsson to heavyweight. That’s blown the doors off the 205-pound weight class, which in my mind, is now completely up for grabs — regardless of who wins between Jan Blachowicz and Israel Adesanya at UFC 259 next month in Las Vegas. While the names at the top of the list ring familiar, like Glover Teixeira and Thiago Santos, among others, Magomed Ankalaev has quietly put himself on the map with five straight wins, four of which came by way of knockout/technical knockout. The Dagestani phenom, still only 28, is sitting just outside the Top 10 at No. 11 and could find himself crossing over with a statement performance against the artist formerly known as “Al Capone.”
Nikita Krylov has been one of those hot-and-cold fighters who shows flashes of greatness and then blasts his way to the precipice of contention — only to come up lame in the big spot. Case in point: “Miner” went on a six-fight winning streak during his first UFC run and broke into the Top 10, then got submitted by Misha Cirkunov and left the promotion altogether to try his luck overseas. The end result was four straight victories and a call back to the big show, where he was promptly submitted by Jan Blachowicz. His latest run inside the Octagon is 2-2 which makes his current ranking at No. 8 indicative of how awful the division gets once you leave the Top 5. His most recent victory over Johnny Walker would have been more impressive if it occurred two years back, but we’ve since learned that Walker is not the indestructible Brazilian we thought he was.
It’s hard to look at this fight and not give the edge to Ankalaev based on what we’ve seen thus far in his career. At the same time, I don’t want to discount the level of competition Krylov has faced, which if we’re being honest, is light years ahead of anything Ankalaev has seen. We don’t know what kind of result we would get against a Glover Teixeira, or a Jan Blachowicz, so we’ll have to add some context to those multiple knockouts from the Dagestani bruiser. In addition, “Miner” has only been stopped once in his career by way of strikes and that came in the heavyweight division opposite Australian “Hulk” Soa Palelei. Ankalaev by knockout feels like the safe pick here but something tells me Krylov is going to avoid a Cutelaba-type bar fight and instead opt to upset the 205-pound apple cart with a slick submission, something he’s already done 15 times in his pro career.
Prediction: Krylov def. Ankalaev by submission
Remember, the rest of the UFC Vegas 20 main card predictions are RIGHT HERE.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 20 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN+ preliminary card bouts at 5 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN+ main card start time at 8 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 20 news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here. For the complete “Rozenstruik vs. Gane” fight card and ESPN+ lineup click here.