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UFC Charlotte preview: ‘Rozenstruik vs. Almeida’ predictions

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Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) continues its nationwide tour this weekend with the UFC Charlotte: “Rozenstruik vs. Almeida” mixed martial arts (MMA) event, scheduled for this Sat. night (May 13, 2023) inside Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. Also known as UFC on ABC 4, the UFC Charlotte event airs on ABC, ESPN and ESPN+ and will be headlined by the heavyweight showdown between hard-hitting bruisers Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Jailton Almeida with “Bigi Boy” risking his spot in the division Top 10.

LIVE! Stream UFC Vegas 73 On ESPN+

STRAWWEIGHT CONTENDERS COLLIDE! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns home to UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sat., May 20, 2023, with No. 7-ranked women’s Strawweight contender, Mackenzie Dern, testing her high-powered submission skills against No. 13-seeded Angela Hill. In UFC Vegas 73’s ESPN+-streamed co-main event, Anthony Hernandez will lock horns with Edmen Shahbazyan in a showdown between talented Middleweight up-and-comers.

Don’t miss a single second of face-punching action!

Before we dive into the main and co-main events, which includes the light heavyweight showdown between battle-tested veteran Anthony Smith and Brazilian fan favorite Johnny Walker, check out Patrick Stumberg’s preliminary card breakdowns — which he wrote while pirating a copy of Meg 2: “The Trench” — by clicking here and here. In addition, budding free soloist Andrew Richardson did most of the heavy lifting for the rest of the UFC Charlotte main card right here.

For the latest “Rozenstruik vs. Almeida” odds and betting lines courtesy of our fiscal friends over at Draft Kings go here.

Let’s get to work.

265 lbs.: Jairzinho Rozenstruik vs. Jailton Almeida

Jairzinho “Bigi Boy” Rozenstruik

Record: 13-4 | Age: 35 | Betting line: +550
Wins: 12 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 1 DEC | Losses: 2 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 2 DEC
Height: 6’2“ | Reach: 78” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 2.93 | Striking accuracy: 46%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 3.23 | Striking Defense: 45%
Takedown Average: 0.00 (0% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 75%
Current Ranking: No. 9 | Last fight: Knockout win over Chris Daukaus

Jailton “Malhadinho” Almeida

Record: 18-2 | Age: 31 | Betting line: -400
Wins: 7 KO/TKO, 11 SUB, 0 DEC | Losses: 1 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 1 DEC
Height: 6’3“ | Reach: 79” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 4.19 | Striking accuracy: 64%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 0.34 | Striking Defense: 10%
Takedown Average: 6.73 (70% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 50%
Current Ranking: No. 12 | Last fight: Technical knockout win over Shamil Abdurakhimov

Jairzinho Rozenstruik made his UFC debut after six fights on the international circuit, five of which ended by way of knockout. His big-game call up probably had more to do with his stellar career on the kickboxing scene, where the Surinamese striker competed for organizations like SUPERKOMBAT, Rings Gala, and K-1 World MAX, among others. Rozenstruik smashed Junior Albini in his first Octagon appearance, part of a 4-0 run that included finishes over former UFC champion Andrei Arlovski and heavyweight sensation Alistair Overeem, no stranger to world titles.

That said, his victory over “Demolition Man” — where he was losing on the scorecards but captured victory when the Dutchman’s face exploded — foreshadowed the problems he would have down the line, which were not unlike the speed bumps in his kickboxing career. “Bigi Boy” performs best against the middle of the pack, but when paired with the best the division has to offer, he comes up short. In the wake of his Overeem win, Rozenstruik is just 3-4, getting stopped in two of those four losses. The 35 year-old power puncher was able to snap a two-fight losing streak by smashing Chris Daukaus at UFC 282, which as I mentioned above, is consistent with his history of rolling over the bottom half of the division.

Jailton Almeida has been a nice surprise over the last year and let’s face it, the heavyweight division is in dire need of some new blood. Stipe Miocic will be eligible for AARP by the time he returns, Jon Jones wants to retire, and Francis Ngannou jumped ship to try his luck elsewhere. The sooner we can get some more qualified contenders in or around the Top 5, the better, and that starts with Almeida’s performance at UFC Charlotte. The Brazilian was introduced to stateside fans by way of Dana White’s “Contender Series” in late 2021, dispatching Nasrudin Nasrudinov by way of second-round submission. That led to an immediate UFC contract and a subsequent 4-0 record, with all four wins coming by way of submission. “Malhadinho” also bagged two performance bonuses along the way, including an extra $50,000 for his UFC 283 destruction of Shamil Abdurakhimov.

Almeida has 12 takedowns in five fights under the UFC banner (which includes his “Contender Series” win) which is even more impressive when you consider he’s spent less than 15 minutes inside cage combined. The only concern, at least in the longterm, is that Almeida is a natural light heavyweight and typically weighs in around 230 pounds — about 30 pounds less than Rozenstruik. That makes a big difference when your primary method of attack is wrestling or grappling, though I guess it hasn’t been a problem thus far.

Bookies are picking Almeida by a landslide but it’s not the “gimme” fight the numbers would suggest. After all, we haven’t seen “Malhadinho” against anyone ranked in the Top 15. It’s also important to note the Brazilian has never gone five rounds (Rozenstruik has done it twice) and the one time Almeida went three, he lost a decision. I know we’re all excited to jump on the next big thing, but I think “Bigi Boy” weathers an early storm, then takes over the fight when Almeida runs out of gas. A late finish would not surprise me.

Prediction: Rozenstruik def. Almeida by technical knockout

205 lbs.: Anthony Smith vs. Johnny Walker

Anthony “Lionheart” Smith

Record: 36-17 | Age: 34 | Betting line: -110
Wins: 19 KO/TKO, 14 SUB, 2 DEC, 1 N/A | Losses: 10 KO/TKO, 4 SUB, 3 DEC
Height: 6’4“ | Reach: 76” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 2.99 | Striking accuracy: 47%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 4.37 | Striking Defense: 42%
Takedown Average: 0.44 (27% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 48%
Current Ranking: No. 5 | Last fight: Technical knockout loss to Magomed Ankalaev

Johnny Walker

Record: 20-7 | Age: 31 | Betting line: -120
Wins: 16 KO/TKO, 3 SUB, 1 DEC | Losses: 4 KO/TKO, 1 SUB, 2 DEC
Height: 6’6“ | Reach: 82” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 3.38 | Striking accuracy: 60%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 2.60 | Striking Defense: 42%
Takedown Average: 0.41 (100% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 58%
Current Ranking: No. 7 | Last fight: Technical knockout win over Paul Craig

Anthony Smith has somehow managed to remain ranked in the Top 5 of the light heavyweight division, which should give you an idea of what the 205-pound weight class looks like in 2023. “Lionheart” performs well against the bottom half of the rankings, putting away Volkan Oezdemir and Ryan Spann, among others, but it’s hard to take him seriously as a legitimate threat the light heavyweight crown after lopsided losses to former champion Glover Teixeira and No. 2-ranked Magomed Ankalaev. Smith’s greatest asset is his versatility and he remains the division’s most prolific finisher, scoring an incredible 33 stoppages — 19 knockouts and 14 submissions — in 36 wins. Unfortunately when you live by the sword you also die by the sword and Smith has been stopped 14 times in 17 losses, 10 by way of knockout. Causal fans may remember his stinker opposite Jon Jones but that was the exception, not the rule, and “Lionheart” has bagged a whopping seven post-fight bonuses in the last seven years, which equates to an extra $350,000 in his pocket.

Not too shabby.

Like Smith, Johnny Walker stormed out of the 205-pound gate red hot. After graduating Dana White’s “Contender Series” back in late 2018, the Brazilian racked up three straight wins, all by first-round, bonus-winning knockout. Even then-champion Jon Jones was looking over his shoulder. Then it all fell apart, starting with a technical knockout loss to “Ultimate Fighter” alum Corey Anderson, part of a dreadful run that saw Walker lose four of his next five. Whether or not he’s turned the corner and gotten back into the title hunt may depend on how you grade consecutive first-round finishes over Ion Cutelaba and Paul Craig. If you hold them in high esteem then it looks as though Walker has settled down and realized his potential. If not ... well, you’re probably picking Smith to win tomorrow night’s contest.

Most of the bookies have this fight deadlocked at -110 apiece, which has more to do with their respective inconsistencies in recent years and less to do with how they match up. When Walker is dialed in, he’s a formidable opponent thanks to his 6’6” frame and 82” reach. How that monster makes the 205-pound limit is a mystery to me. Walker is by far the more dangerous fighter but Smith’s cerebral approach is why I’m picking him to win this fight. He just has to survive the first-round blitzkrieg — which is going to be a never-ending barrage of unorthodox power strikes — before taking over in rounds two and three. If he doesn’t end this early, Walker is likely to lose most of his pop and end up getting submitted.

Prediction: Smith def. Walker by submission

Remember, the rest of the UFC Charlotte main card predictions are RIGHT HERE. will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Charlotte fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ preliminary card bouts at 11 a.m. ET, followed by the ABC/ESPN+ main card start time at 3 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC Charlotte news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archives here, here, and here. For the updated and finalized “Rozenstruik vs. Almeida” fight card and ABC/ESPN/ESPN+ lineup click here.

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