Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight strikers Ciryl Gane and Jairzinho Rozenstruik will clash TONIGHT (Sat., Feb. 27, 2021) at UFC Vegas 20 inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Gane is on a rocket ship to the title. The French athlete debuted in 2018, joined UFC one year later at 3-0, and four fights later, he’s ranked inside the Top 5 and closing in on a title shot. In a division where change is glacial, the 30-year-old kickboxer really stands out as a likely long-time contender. Of course, much of the above could be said about Rozenstruik, who has also quickly risen from unranked prospect to top-ranked title threat. Unlike Gane, however, Rozenstruik brings with him a true wealth of professional kickboxing experience, and it may prove the difference between knockout artists.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Junior dos Santos (UFC 256), Tanner Boser (UFC Fight Night 165), Raphael Pessoa (UFC Fight Night 156), Don’Tale Mayes (UFC Fight Night 162)
Key Losses: None
Keys To Victory: Gane does not fight like the vast majority of Heavyweights. Standing 6’6” with a great build for combat, the French athlete has a background in professional Muay Thai, yet two of his UFC victories came via submission. More than anything else, he’s a really quality athlete, one who seems to pick up the sport very naturally.
Thus far, Gane has really showed an ability to fight anywhere. He’s definitely a slick kickboxer, but that smoothness extends to his takedowns and ground work. As such, he has a lot of options regarding any potential gameplan.
Against a man clearly defined as a kickboxer, it seems wise to mix it up. Gane does not usually like to fight in the pocket, so why attempt to do so against a man with a crushing check hook? Instead, Gane should be tricky on the outside with his kicks then time his entrances into the clinch.
At close distance, Gane has proven himself dangerous with elbows, knees and takedowns alike. If he can keep mixing up his attack, that may prove enough to remain a step ahead of his veteran foe.
Key Wins: Alistair Overeem (UFC on ESPN 7), Junior dos Santos (UFC 252), Andrei Arlovski (UFC 244), Junior Albini (UFC Fight Night 144), Allen Crowder (UFC Fight Night 154)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: “Bigi Boy” has power. The Surinamese striker has accumulated an absurd 74 knockout wins between kickboxing and MMA, and a great deal of them come in the opening round. Despite his high knockout ratio, Rozenstruik is actually a fairly patient counter striker who will occasionally explode with violence.
The primary rule I’d like to see Rozenstruik follow is a fundamental one: no free kicks. Gane loves to feint kicks at different targets and come in at different angles, befuddling his opponents with variety. His array of kicks and feints can lull opponents into a trance, but Rozenstruik’s traditional kickboxing counters should be a great answer.
Whenever Gane throws a kick, Rozenstruik has to fire back a couple punches and finish with a kick of his own. Ideally, he’d also check the initial kick, but it’s more important to fire back and send the message: no free kicks!
Otherwise, Rozenstruik is the far sharper puncher between the two. As such, a bit of stalking pressure would be wise, as it would likely help draw some big swings from his French foe — the perfect set up for Rozenstruik’s favorite left hook.
This is a huge fight for the future of the Heavyweight division.
Both of these men are seriously talented and quite young by Heavyweight standards. As such, we’re likely looking at the first of several match ups between them, as they’re likely to remain staples of the Heavyweight title picture for years to come.
This presents an interesting set of circumstances. On one hand, the winner of this bout very likely sets himself up for a title eliminator opposite Derrick Lewis, which would be immediately amazing. At the same time, the Heavyweight title still has two clear-cut contenders in Ngannou and Jon Jones, so it may be some time before that title shot ever emerges.
As such, the defeated man will have time to rebuild himself. On the other hand, we could even see an immediate rematch. Such is the current, weird state of the Heavyweight division.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 20 fight card this weekend right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET.
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At UFC Vegas 20, Ciryl Gane and Jairzinho Rozenstruik will go to war. Which man will score the knockout?