I just don’t know what to make of Jairzinho Rozenstruik.
There are some simple facts we can draw from his UFC career that make sense easily enough. Rozenstruik is a counter striker, and sometimes counter strikers are prone to boring fights. Think Anderson Silva vs. Demian Maia or Israel Adesanya vs. Yoel Romero — if the man looking to counter doesn’t have much to work with, the fight probably isn’t going to be a whole lot of fun.
At the same time, the onus is on the counter fighter to still win. In those two examples above, both Silva and Adesanya scored enough distance strikes to keep the numbers and scorecards in their favor. Last night’s main event was the opposite, as Ciryl Gane threw a vast majority of the strikes. He just did so from a safe distance, hidden behind feints and misdirection, winning every round as a result.
On paper, that still makes sense. Even at Heavyweight, where the window that constitutes a “perfect” shot is wider than any other division, that strike doesn’t always land. The outcome isn’t confusing; it was the most likely end result per the odds makers.
It’s just Jairzinho Rozenstruik himself that is so baffling.
Prior to his mixed martial arts career, Rozenstruik built up a professional kickboxing record of 76-8-1. 64 of those wins came via knockout. He picked up a bunch of titles for organizations I have never heard of.
Even without being a kickboxing buff, I understand that Rozenstruik did not fight for the truly premiere organizations like GLORY. All the same, that’s an incredible amount of in-ring experience that surely translates to hours of fight experience, as well as years and years training to compete.
None of it really showed last night.
Surely, in all those kickboxing matches, Rozenstruik faced many men who attempted a similar game plan to Gane. After all, hanging back behind the jab and low kick is not exactly an overcomplicated strategy, even if Gane executed masterfully. Rozenstruik had 25 minutes to dig into his bag of tricks built up from a decade of competition, and his answer was somehow ... nothing?
I understand that the takedown changes the game. Wrestling is an important factor in MMA striking. At the same time, are we supposed to believe that two successful takedowns on 14 attempts and a mere handful of seconds of top control paralyzed Rozenstruik to such an extent? Considering all his experience, it’s hard to comprehend.
What’s more confusing is that this is not a new look from Rozenstruik. For example, he struggled mightily to pull the trigger opposite Junior Albini. That fight could be excused away though, as it was his UFC debut. Next, against Alistair Overeem, Rozenstruik failed to do much of anything. Again, however, that fight was his first truly elite foe, and he did win in the end.
There was reason to think Rozenstruik was moving in the right direction. Knocking out Junior dos Santos from his front foot was a good sign! Sadly, this performance largely eliminates that thought. Now, there are only two circumstances that can explain the mystery of “Bigi Boy.” In one, the Surinamese fighter should get in touch with a sport’s therapist and learn to let loose in the Octagon.
The alternative is worse: Rozenstruik just might not be that great.
For complete UFC Vegas 20: “Gane vs. Rozenstruik” results and play-by-play, click HERE!
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