Augusto Sakai will have a prime opportunity to launch himself into the upper echelon of heavyweight contenders later tonight (Sat. June 5, 2021) at UFC Vegas 28 live on ESPN+ from inside UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, when he meets Jairzinho Rozenstruik in the main event.
For Sakai, this will be his second-straight main event appearance under the UFC banner. He is coming off a TKO loss to heavyweight legend Alistair Overeem back in Sept. 2020, but Sakai still holds an overall UFC record of 4-1 and remains a key name in the division’s top 10.
Luckily for Sakai, he will have his chance to right the ship later this evening at UFC Vegas 28 when he takes on Rozenstruik in a five-round battle. It will be Sakai’s invitation to take out a known contender and place himself back in contention heading into the later half of 2021.
“It’s two tough guys fighting for the win and it will definitely impact the division,” Sakai told MMA Fighting. “The winner won’t gain many positions [in the ranking] since the division is a bit stuck right now, but the winner — in this case me — will impact the division because will enter the radar for the top-5 and the radar for a title shot, which is what we’re both going after.”
Sakai, 30, has blossomed quite nicely since coming over from Bellator MMA and joining UFC back in 2018. The Brazilian’s maturation has been interesting to watch as his level of competition continues to rise. Rozenstruik will yet again pose a big threat to Sakai and his climb up the divisional ladder, but if Sakai can pull out of the main event win he could set himself up for a very important fight next time around.
“I know that just the win over Jairzinho won’t be a big step towards a title shot,” he said. “We know we have to defeat Jairzinho to fight one more to earn a title shot. There’s a lot of people in front of me. My focus is on Jairzinho, on beating him, and then we’ll see how the division stands, what will happen, to find a fight that really makes sense for us.”
As for the fight itself, Sakai has an incredible amount of respect for Rozenstruik. He understands the dangers of fighting a knockout artist like “Bigi Boi,” but Sakai still believes he will find a finish and could do it quickly.
“I expect a good fight and a win. A quick one,” he said. “I want to end this fight as soon as possible, by knockout or submission. I’m ready to put on a great show, but we know Jairzinho is very tough and hits really hard. He has a lot of knockouts in the division, so we have to be smart and be careful. But I hope to end this fight as quick as possible, and I’m ready for it.”
“Ngannou made him walk backwards and was able to connect a hand, so that’s an opening [in his game],” he continued. “Overeem didn’t win, but he dominated every round until Jairzinho landed his hand. Making him walk backwards and maybe attack with takedowns, attack with my grappling, that’s another opening I see.”
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.