Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight hitters Augusto Sakai and Jairzinho Rozenstruik will clash TONIGHT (Sat., June 5, 2021) at UFC Vegas 28 inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Both men enter their second main event slot in a row under similar circumstances. Both Sakai and Rozenstruik ascended the Heavyweight ladder quickly, building win streaks against quality competition to advance into the Top 10. However, upon closing in on the title mix, that next tier of UFC Heavyweight proved too much, and both athletes suffered losses as a result. Fortunately, since each athlete is still reasonably young and relatively new to the Octagon, there’s still plenty of time to rebuild, particularly if they can continue to maintain an active fight schedule.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Blagoy Ivanov (UFC on ESPN 9), Marcin Tybura (UFC Fight Night 158), Andrei Arlovski (UFC Fight Night 150), Chase Sherman (UFC Fight Night 137)
Key Losses: Alistair Overeem (UFC Vegas 9), Cheick Kongo (Bellator 179)
Keys to Victory: Sakai is a simple enough fighter to understand. This is a big man, an athlete who cuts weight to make the 265-pound limit. Despite all that mass, Sakai maintains a fairly high-volume of power punches deep into fights.
In this bout, Sakai has to bring multiple layers of offense to his attack. Ciryl Gane flustered Rozenstruik largely with the jab and low kick, but he also mixed in takedowns. As a result, Rozenstruik appeared far less comfortable setting his feet for counters, resulting in the boring — but clear — win for the French athlete.
Sakai may not have Gane’s fluidity or range, but he can execute an ugly version of the same idea. Rather than maintain distance, Sakai should be looking to punch into the clinch, where he can attack with punches, knees, elbows, and takedowns. It’s exhausting being forced on the back foot by a high-pressure attack, and cardio could be another reason behind Rozenstruik’s low volume.
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: Ciryl Gane (UFC Vegas 20), Francis Ngannou (UFC 249)
Keys to Victory: Rozenstruik may have difficulty initiating offense, but the man has to be one of the heaviest hitters on the roster. His counter punches are nasty, and on the rare occasions that he does start firing off combinations, “Bigi” Boy is especially scary.
Rozenstruik should win this fight. Sakai is durable, tough, and throws hard, but he does not appear to have the grace nor expertise that men like Alistair Overeem and Ciryl Gane used to (mostly) outplay Rozenstruik. Sakai is hardly impossible to hit, and when Rozenstruik hits people, they’re on the canvas soon afterward.
At the same time, Rozenstruik has to fix his previous problem and actually throw to capitalize on all his technique and power. While at distance, I’d like to see the Surinamese athlete firing harder kicks than mere tapping low kicks. If he can blast Sakai off-balance with his legs, that would create great opportunities to follow up.
Otherwise, staying off the fence seems like an important detail here. Getting trapped along the cage by a 280-ish pound giant looking to wrestle sounds like an awful fate for a striker, and it raises the chance that Rozenstruik winds up stuck beneath the big Brazilian.
The winner is in a decent spot among the Heavyweights.
With Francis Ngannou as champion, the division may just move more quickly. After all, “The Predator” has been very vocal about his desire to be an active strap-hanger. With Jon Jones stuck in negotiation purgatory, there is no clear-cut top contender following Derrick Lewis. The winner of this bout is not next — that would likely be the Gane vs. Volkov victor — but they’re certainly within a win or two from the title.
It helps that UFC recently released some of the long-time Top 5 standbys like Overeem and Junior dos Santos (details).
As for the defeated man, consecutive losses is no way to build momentum. Regardless of the Heavyweight division’s relative thinness, another setback here will have the loser face someone coming up the ranks next.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 28 fight card tonight right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance on ESPN+ at 7 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 28: “Rozenstruik vs. Sakai” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.
At UFC Vegas 28, Augusto Sakai and Jairzinho Rozenstruik will dual in the main event. Which man remains standing when the dust settles?