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UFC Vegas 28 preview, ‘Rozenstruik vs Sakai’ predictions

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UFC Fight Night: Rozenstruik v Gane Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will look to separate contender from pretender when heavyweight hurters Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Augusto Sakai go to war for the right to stay alive in the 265-pound title chase. The action takes place atop the UFC Vegas 28 mixed martial arts (MMA) event this Sat. night (June 5, 2021) inside APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Prior to that exchange of leather, fellow 265-pound bruisers Walt Harris and Marcin Tybura will hook ‘em up for a spot in the heavyweight Top 10. Despite his recent struggles, “The Big Ticket” (No. 8) is ranked four spots above Tybura (No. 12), winner of four straight.

Before we dive into the main and co-main events, head over to the UFC Vegas 28 preliminary card breakdown expertly deconstructed by effervescent analyst Patrick Stumberg here and here. Resident MMA champ Andrew Richardson did most of the heavy lifting for the rest of the UFC Vegas 28 main card right here.

For the latest “Rozenstruik vs. Sakai” odds and betting lines be sure to check out the updated numbers right here.

Let’s break it down ...

265 lbs.: Jairzinho Rozenstruik vs. Augusto Sakai

Jairzinho “Bigi Boy” Rozenstruik

Record: 11-2 | Age: 33 | Betting line: -125
Wins: 10 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 1 DEC | Losses: 1 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 1 DEC
Height: 6’4“ | Reach: 78” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 3.14 | Striking accuracy: 48%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 3.48 | Striking Defense: 39%
Takedown Average: 0.00 (0% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 80%
Current Ranking: No. 6 | Last fight: Unanimous decision loss to Ciryl Gane

Augusto Sakai

Record: 15-2-1 | Age: 30 | Betting line: +105
Wins: 11 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 4 DEC | Losses: 1 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 1 DEC
Height: 6’3“ | Reach: 77” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 5.32 | Striking accuracy: 48%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 4.02 | Striking Defense: 50%
Takedown Average: 0.15 (50% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 66%
Current Ranking: No. 9 | Last fight: Technical knockout loss to Alistair Overeem

Jairzinho Rozenstruik has only been with the promotion for a little over two years but has already made quite the name for himself, thanks to some violent knockouts and a division bereft of fresh faces. A 5-2 record is nothing to sneeze at, particularly when it’s accompanied by five finishes, though we need to play fair when it comes to his quality of opposition. Four of those five opponents are no longer competing for UFC and two of them are over 40. He was also losing the Alistair Overeem fight by a relatively wide margin until the Dutchman’s face exploded in the waning seconds. I know, “a win is a win” and I’m not trying to discredit what “Bigi Boy” has done thus far in his career because he’s not responsible for matchmaking, but our job here is to build a case for victory — or defeat — against another hard-hitting heavyweight.

Augusto Sakai walked a similar path after parting ways with Bellator MMA back in early 2017. The Brazilian proved he was ready for stiffer competition by stiffening Marcos Conrado Jr. on season one of Dana White’s “Contender Series” (Brazil), then quickly compiled four straight wins against some notoriously tough outs, like fellow UFC Vegas 28 heavyweight Marcin Tybura and the venerable Blagoy Ivanov. Unfortunately his momentum was halted by the aforementioned Overeem, who put Sakai on his ass last September. Not unlike his Surinamese counterpart, the hard-hitting Brazilian lives and does by the sword, racking up 11 knockouts in 15 wins with zero submissions, which will benefit the impatient Just Bleed’rs tuning in for tomorrow night’s fireworks.

Rozenstruik claims he was unable to get out of first gear against Ciryl Gane, though you can also argue that he was exposed. Winning is hard when your opponent doesn’t stick to the script and “Bon Gamin” was not interested in a sloppy bar fight. I don’t think Sakai is either, so we’re in danger of a five-round staring contest, not uncommon at 265 pounds. If you look at the numbers, Sakai is the far busier striker and Rozenstruik’s striking defense is a putrid 39 percent. With that many punches getting through it’s hard to imagine “Bigi Boy” winning the striking exchanges and yet he’s done it so many times in the past, a la Derrick Lewis. It may not be pretty and Rozenstruik will probably eat some leather along the way, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Sakai will be up on the cards and get too comfortable for his own good.

Prediction: Rozenstruik def. Sakai by knockout

265 lbs.: Walt Harris vs. Marcin Tybura

Walt “Big Ticket” Harris

Record: 13-9, 1 NC | Age: 37 | Betting line: +150
Wins: 13 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 0 DEC | Losses: 4 KO/TKO, 1 SUB, 3 DEC, 1 DQ
Height: 6’5“ | Reach: 77” | Stance: Southpaw
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 2.95 | Striking accuracy: 38%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 3.43 | Striking Defense: 54%
Takedown Average: 0.30 (28% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 72%
Current Ranking: No. 8 | Last fight: Technical knockout loss to Alistair Overeem

Marcin “Tybur” Tybura

Record: 21-6 | Age: 35 | Betting line: -170
Wins: 8 KO/TKO, 6 SUB, 7 DEC | Losses: 4 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 2 DEC
Height: 6’3“ | Reach: 78” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 3.70 | Striking accuracy: 50%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 3.25 | Striking Defense: 56%
Takedown Average: 1.62 (45% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 82%
Current Ranking: No. 12 | Last fight: Technical knockout win over Greg Hardy

Nobody takes the UFC rankings seriously anymore and this fight is a pretty good reason why. Walt Harris is somehow ranked No. 8 at 265 pounds — a full four spots above Marcin Tybura — despite the fact that “The Big Ticket” is coming off back-to-back knockout losses while “Tybur” has captured four straight. Harris also has a losing record under the UFC banner (7-8) against 8-5 for the Polish slugger. You can argue the loss of his daughter took something out of him and expectedly so, but it does not explain his inconsistent run prior to that family tragedy. Harris is a big, agile heavyweight with surprisingly fast hands, which is why all 13 of his victories have ended by way of knockout. There isn’t much “mixed” in his martial arts and he’s only scored two takedowns in his UFC career, one against Andrei Arlovski (NC) and the other against Mark Godbeer (L). I would expect more of the same against Tybura, which may not be a bad thing for those of us who hate boring heavyweight decisions.

Tybura migrated from M-1 and quickly jumped out to a 3-1 start, racking up a pair of knockouts along the way. Then came a dreadful 1-4 run where “Tybur” got stopped in three of those four losses and nearly ended up on the unemployment line. Fortunately for the power-punching Pole, Tybura had an electric 2020 notching four straight wins, which includes his decision victory over Ben Rothwell and his technical knockout finish over Greg Hardy, no doubt endearing him to critics of “The Prince of War.” In addition, Tybura is far more active as a wrestler, scoring takedowns in 10 of his 13 UFC fights. If things get too hot on the feet, expect the takedowns to start coming fast and furious. Remember, a shot is about more than just getting your opponent to the ground. It takes away distance, limits leg kicks, and serves as an excuse to mash-and-bash against the fence.

We can make some of the same comparisons to the main event in terms of what to expect in the co-headliner. Both Harris and Tybura are seasoned sluggers who can stop the fight at any second, which could deliver fireworks ... or crickets. Right now the momentum favors Tybura, two years younger than Harris, and the Pole has more ways to win. Lasting 15 minutes against an opponent as powerful as “The Big Ticket” is a daunting task, but as he proved against Hardy, Tybura has both the skill and experience to neutralize incoming missiles by way of superior gameplan. Sounds great on paper, execution however is an entirely different story.

Prediction: Tybura def. Harris by unanimous decision

Remember, the rest of the UFC Vegas 28 main card predictions are RIGHT HERE.

MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 28 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN+ preliminary card bouts at 4 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN+ main card start time at 7 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 28 news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive here. For the complete “Rozenstruik vs. Sakai” fight card and ESPN+ lineup click here.