Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight strikers Alexander Volkov and Jairzinho Rozenstruik will clash TONIGHT (Sat., June 4, 2022) at UFC Vegas 56 inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Volkov, a former Bellator champion, began his UFC career with a big win streak, breaking into the Top 10 when he knocked off ex-kingpin Fabricio Werdum. Since then, however, Volkov has continually struggled to pick up wins over the division’s elite, leaving him stranded just outside the title mix.
And Rozenstruik can likely relate.
Though newer to the promotion and mixed martial arts (MMA) as a whole, the experienced kickboxer has an identical record to Volkov against shared opposition like Alistair Overeem, Curtis Blaydes and Ciryl Gane. Ranked at No. 7 and No. 8, respectively, the two men enter this fight in nearly identical situations.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Alistair Overeem (UFC Vegas 18), Fabricio Werdum (UFC 229), Marcin Tybura (UFC 267), Walt Harris (UFC 254), Stefan Struve (UFC Fight Night 115), Blagoy Ivanov (Bellator 120)
Keys Losses: Ciryl Gane (UFC Vegas 30), Tom Aspinall (UFC London), Curtis Blaydes (UFC on ESPN 11), Derrick Lewis (UFC 229)
Keys to Victory: Volkov is a long and lanky kickboxer who does his best work at distance, picking at his opponent with stabbing kicks and hard jabs. He’s bulked up a bit in recent years, although that additional muscle mass has yet to really change his position in the division.
The Russian is certainly hitting harder though.
I do not want to write what I’m about to write. After all, I have to watch this main event tonight and closely pay attention while recording the action. Unfortunately, it seems to me that the best course of action to guarantee victory for Volkov is to make this a boring fight.
Time and time again, Rozenstruik has proven a willingness to hang at distance and trade small shots, often falling behind on the volume game. Volkov is taller, has the longer reach, and is the superior kicker. Why wouldn’t he hang back, poke his opponent with some kicks, stick a few jabs, and try to take an uneventful decision when the alternative is stepping into Rozenstruik’s kill zone?
Don’t go full Rose Namajunas, but maybe the crowd booing wouldn’t be such a bad thing for “Drago.”
Key Wins: Alistair Overeem (UFC on ESPN 7), Junior dos Santos (UFC 252), Augusto Sakai (UFC Vegas 28), Andrei Arlovski (UFC 244), Junior Albini (UFC Fight Night 144)
Key Losses: Ciryl Gane (UFC Vegas 20), Francis Ngannou (UFC 249), Curtis Blaydes (UFC 266)
Keys to Victory: Were it not for Ngannou, I’d likely name “Bigi Boy” the heaviest hitter among the big men. Rozenstruik simply melts opponents, most often on the counter with his killer check hook.
Yet again, this bout is all about activity. Rozenstruik is not facing a wrestling threat like Gane, so perhaps he’ll be more willing to let his hands go against this rangy striker? One way or another, it’s pretty essential that Rozenstruik doesn’t let Volkov fight from his range.
Ideally, I’d like to see Rozenstruik working his jab and cutting off the cage. He’s shown an ability to move behind the jab then unload big power punches, but he does it so rarely! Rozenstruik has to be more consistent with his offense, and at a bare minimum, match his opponent’s activity.
Countering kicks should be a major point of focus as well. As an ex-professional kickboxer, that should be well within his skill set! Volkov likes to keep his lead leg active, but if Rozenstruik can parry the toe stab by and unleash a combo while his opponent is vulnerable, it’ll take away a major weapon if not end the fight outright.
It’s hard to say the stakes here are terribly high since both men seem fairly stuck in place.
As mentioned in the intro, both of these athletes have recent losses to several of the men ranked above them, and they also enter this main event following defeats. Before getting a rematch with any of the names mentioned or a different opponent who is ranked far above them, it’s likely that more than a single win will be required. Best case scenario, victory here sets up a fight with someone like Derrick Lewis — a small step up the ladder.
Volkov has history with “The Black Beast,” so that would be an interesting angle at least.
Seeing as the two are ranked next to one another, a loss doesn’t move either man all that far either. Ultimately, the defeated man is a step further from getting a chance to fight up the rankings.
At UFC Vegas 56, Alexander Volkov and Jairzinho Rozenstruik will go to war in the main event. Which man will earn the victory?
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 56 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (on ESPN+) at 4 p.m. ET.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 56: “Volkov vs. Rozenstruik” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.