Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight finishers Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Jailton Almeida will clash later this afternoon (Sat., May 13, 2023) inside Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Though he’s likely unhappy about it, Rozenstruik has settled into a pattern inside the Octagon. Against elite contenders, he’s struggled to get his offense going, which has resulted in multiple losses to Top 10-ranked foes. Against anyone undeserving of that rank, however, Rozenstruik tends to land something nasty right away and clock off early. As a result, he’s serving as gatekeeper against Almeida, who’s undefeated (4-0) with four finishes thus far in his UFC career. The brawny Brazilian has consistently overwhelmed each of his opponents with his excellent grappling, and he’s yet to really struggle as a UFC fighter.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Alistair Overeem (UFC on ESPN 7), Junior dos Santos (UFC 252), Augusto Sakai (UFC Vegas 28), Chris Daukaus (UFC 282), Andrei Arlovski (UFC 244)
Key Losses: Alexander Volkov (UFC Vegas 56), Ciryl Gane (UFC Vegas 20), Francis Ngannou (UFC 249), Curtis Blaydes (UFC 266)
Keys to Victory: Rozenstruik was a kickboxer for a long time prior to crossing into the cage, spending many years knocking out men most of have never heard of. In MMA, Rozenstruik is a counter striker with reasonably good defensive wrestling, and he’ll occasionally burst forward in violent charges featuring big swings.
This is about as obvious as striker vs. grappler match ups come. In every such fight, the single most important key for the striker is staying off the fence. That’s especially true against Almeida, who likes to dive with his double leg to drive his foe into the cage, at which point his strength and transitional wrestling are difficult to stop.
For that reason, Rozenstruik has to maintain a ton of room between himself and fence, because Almeida will shoot just to push his opponent back. Rozenstruik’s footwork will be tested, but his excellent stiff jab will be a boon as well. If he can stick Almeida once or twice early, the Brazilian may not be so bold about pushing forward.
On the whole, Almeida’s kickboxing is almost a complete unknown.
Key Wins: Shamil Abdurakhimov (UFC 283), Parker Porter (UFC Vegas 55), Danilo Marques (UFC Vegas 54)
Key Losses: None
Keys to Victory: Almeida may have experience at Light Heavyweight — recent experience! — but he’s a powerhouse at Heavyweight. He uses his strength to push his opponents around and force takedowns, at which point his excellent jiu-jitsu technique tends to really take over.
Thus far, Almeida has employed the exact same game plan every time. He takes the center of the cage, throws a kick or two, then charges forward with a full power double leg takedown attempt. Four fights in, he’s batting 1000, so it’s hard to argue a major change is necessary just yet.
Does Rozenstruik present any kind of threat that will force Almeida to change his approach? It’s unclear. He probably has the best takedown defense yet of an Almeida foe. That may mean the early double leg fails, at which point, “Malhadinho” will be forced to engage more in the stand up and get a bit trickier.
If his shot doesn’t fail? This one’s a wrap.
Someone is getting stopped.
Almeida is one of the most exciting Heavyweight prospects on the roster, and this is his first real step up in competition. Victory here in his first main event pushes him into the Top 10 riding a significant win streak, which should really help grow his name and set up a huge fight next. If he stops Rozenstruik, a name opponent like Ciryl Gane, Tai Tuivasa, or Alexander Volkov could be next for the Brazilian.
As for Rozenstruik, he’s the more established contender but also the b-side of this main event. There’s only one way to break free from the gatekeeper role, and it’s winning several fights in a row. Dispatching Almeida would make it a two-fight win streak for “Bigi Boy,” as well as a significant scalp for his record. Is that enough for him to fight up the ranks again? Probably not, but it’s a big step in the right direction.
At UFC Charlotte, Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Jailton Almeida will battle in the main event. Which man will earn the victory?
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