In perhaps the most skilled Heavyweight match-up (outside of the champion), Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Ciryl Gane aim to leapfrog the rankings into a title shot with a stunning performance.
UFC Fight Night 186: Rozenstruik vs Gane Predictions & Results
Despite this cursed Fight Night card suffering 5-6 cancellations, including a massive bout between Dominick Reyes and Jiri Prochazka, FN168 is still shaping up to be a corker. In the main card, you have PPV quality stars in Jairzinho Rozenstruik, Magomed Ankalaev and Pedro Munhoz. Moreover, hidden deeper into the prelims, star power remains in abundance. Alexander Hernandez, Thiago Moises, Angela Hill and Alex Oliveira can all be watched early in the evening – great news for European fans.
The Heavyweight main event is tantalising for reasons beyond brute power. Last week’s main between Curtis Blaydes and Derrick Lewis followed the typical Heavyweight formula of power puncher vs wrestler. This Saturday, Jairzinho Rozenstruik represents a crisp counter punching threat, while Ciryl Gane’s exceptional athleticism and well-rounded skillset has skyrocketed the prospect’s hype train. Although both men tend to fight ‘tentatively’ during the opening proceedings, across five rounds, the big bois will be eventually forced to descend into fireworks.
Personally, the most intriguing match-up involves Alexander Hernandez and Thiago Moises. Although an unpopular opinion, I have a soft spot for Hernandez and want to see his stock return to the level it peaked at after his 42-second KO over Beneil Dariush. Having suffered a crisis in style over his short but furious UFC career, Hernandez has finally settled back into his aggressive wrestle-boxing approach that saw him clean up opponents at the regional level. Submission guru, Thiago Moises, is still searching to earn himself a clean highlight reel in MMA’s biggest promotion. Now on a two-fight streak against tough opposition (Michael Johnson and Bobby Green), Moises will be brimming with confidence.
Jairzinho Rozenstruik (11-1) vs Ciryl Gane (7-0)
Patient kickboxer, Jairzinho Rozestruik, is a seriously underrated technician in the Heavyweight division. Perhaps overrated for his power pre-N’Gannou, Rozenstruik’s finishes were a bit of a mess. A jab to knockout Allen Crowder in nine seconds? A counter left hook on a lunging Andrei Arlovski thirty seconds into their bout? There was a lack of tape to gauge Rozenstruik’s ability, and as such, was reduced to being viewed as yet another freak power puncher. Then came the Overeem fight. An early stoppage after five rounds of failing to overcome the wily veteran, Rozenstruik at least proved his gas tank and ability to hold his power late.
Despite a twenty-second whitewash against N’Gannou, Rozenstruik was finally able to prove his tactical worth against former champion, Junior dos Santos. The decorated kickboxer landed heavy low kicks to throw JDS out of his bladed boxing stance and forced his opponent against the cage. Aware of JDS’s dangerous right hand, Rozenstruik baited the power punch out with a variety of hand feints while keeping back at a safe distance. After winning the contest at the mid-range over two rounds, Rozenstruik followed up on a late knockdown with a vicious, swarming finish that forced Dan Miragliotta to intervene. While Rozenstruik’s output is lacklustre early, much of his initial work revolves around battling for positioning in the octagon.
Sharing an opponent in JDS, Gane achieved his biggest scalp just a few months ago with a similarly devastating second-round stoppage. Unfortunately for the French prospect, his career stalled out over almost the entirety of 2020 due to COVID and cancellations. Disappointing for the rising star who had been rapidly making a name for himself in 2019. The major issue Gane faced before JDS, was his inability to finish the feet on the feet. Although the French Muay Thai champion was easily outclassing opponents, whenever he had an opponent rocked, Gane would pile on the pressure and as a result, suffocate his own work. Gane’s greatest success is when he bounces in and out of range with short combinations, aiming to out-point opponents rather than knock them out. An especially effective combination is Gane’s southpaw lead hook sneaking around the guard of his opponent, before firing a heavy body kick that drains the gas tank. We haven’t even touched upon the BJJ of the big lad, which appears to be as slick as anybody’s in the current Heavyweight roster. Granted, the fighters he has submitted have little in the way of BJJ excellence themselves, yet it still stands to highlight Gane’s ability to successfully take the fight anywhere he wishes.
Predicted Result: Gane Decision
This fight has all the signs pointing towards a patient chess match at range. Neither man particularly revels in forward pressure and instead will spend considerable time attempting to bait their opponent into advancing and making a mistake. While both excel at counter striking, Gane possesses a clear speed advantage and his bouncing footwork allows him to dart in and out of striking distance in an instant. While Rozenstruik’s left hand can pose an issue if it is to connect, Gane’s ability to fight out of both stances will surely negate the traps that the Suriname native attempts to lay. Moreover, question marks remain over Rozenstruik’s ability on the ground while Gane has already proven to be a rather potent submission threat. If Rozenstruik remains dormant and allows Gane to control the clinch, Gane can sting Rozenstruik standing with an elbow over the top or fashion a foot sweep.
Result: Gane def. Rozenstruik // Decision (unanimous – 50-45, 50-45, 50-45)
Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️
Light Heavyweight (205)
Nikita Krylov (27-7) vs Magomed Ankalaev (14-1)
For the longest time, UFC fans had to endure commentators drone on about Krylov’s incredible record of having “NEVER GONE TO THE SCORECARDS” after eleven fights with the promotion. Finally, after enduring a kill or be killed career, the Ukrainian met his fate with a decision loss to Glover Tex in 2019 and a decision victory in 2020. It is strange to say that Krylov is operating at his peak, after all, he is only twenty-eight years old, but the Light Heavyweight has endured a long career. Krylov truly showed his age against Johnny Walker. While the frenetic Brazilian striker always poses a risk on the feet, Krylov did his very best to stall out the fight on the ground with horrendously sloppy wrestling. This wasn’t the Krylov of old, who would give up prime position to snap up a submission. No. Krylov now appears to have adopted a wrestle-grinder role, detached from his earlier karate background.
Ankalaev will be a UFC champion in the near future. The Russian seems far too well-rounded to be denied championship gold. Ankalaev is a frightening counter striker who carries ridiculous power in his left hand. Central to his striking are probing teep kicks, as well as his more powerful front kick. Mixed into his liquid check hooks, Ankaleav puppeteeers opponents into constantly moving their guard and as a result, creates an opening to land his cash money left hand. Worse still for opponents, Ankalaev oozes strength in the clinch and on the mat. Despite the one slip up to Paul Craig’s famous triangle submission in the dying seconds of their fight, Ankalaev has shown phenomenal grappling. Body locks and trips are secured with ease, while the Russian’s top game incorporates crushing strikes from above.
Predicted Result: Ankalaev TKO Round 3
Krylov is a tricky customer. The Ukrainian possesses a powerful kicking game and historically has been willing to drop everything to chase a risky submission. In the past couple of bouts, however, Krylov appears to have adopted a ‘grinder’ style that aims to rack up takedowns and control time. Against Ankalaev, Krylov will struggle immensely to get the Russian to the mat without ending up his own back. Ankalaev’s ability to manoeuvre opponents with his jab, before setting them up for his lethal left hand, will allow Ankalaev to dictate proceedings.
Result: Ankalaev def. Krylov // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌
Women’s Flyweight (125)
Montana De La Rosa (11-6) vs Mayra Bueno Silva (7-1)
Expect a war of attrition on the mat between two ladies who struggle to strike. This is a match-up that does very little to inspire. De la Rosa is a competent grappler but her best victory still stands as Mara Borella. Borella, representing a Flyweight currently on a four-fight slide (inc. three finishes), that would be six if not for her ‘split decision’ victory over Taila Santos. Worse still, De la Rosa’s finishes in the company have been over the padded record of Nadia Kassem and Instagram model, Rachael Ostovich. De la Rosa is a competent wrestler who will be searching for top position and should have enough skill to prevent any frantic off-the-back submissions from Silva.
Mayra Bueno Silva isn’t the finest athlete at Women’s Flyweight either. Despite two first-round armbar finishes, her quality of opposition has been lacklustre (Gillian Robertson and Mara Borella). Definitely the jiu-jitsu specialist in this encounter, Silva offers a more potent threat of a finish. While Silva’s takedowns cannot be praised as a strength of hers, her grappling on the mat is crisp, and she can fully utilise her size advantage.
Predicted Result: Silva Decision
A difficult match-up to call because fights between two grapplers often descend into sloppy striking affairs in which the winner is anybody’s guess. If De la Rosa chases the takedown (as her usual strategy is), it will be a battle between keeping top control and surviving frequent off-the-back submission attempts from Silva. Silva is more active on the feet but her striking defence is atrocious. Favouring Silva to stuff loose De la Rosa takedowns, and dominate on the mat.
Result: Draw (majority – 28-28, 28-28, 28-27)
Winner ❌ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️
Pedro Munhoz (18-5) vs Jimmie Rivera (23-4)
Pedro Munhoz is a banana slip for any fighter in the Bantamweight division. While his offensive striking CRIES OUT for output, Munhoz has been able to win fights based on his accurate and powerful counter hooks. For Munhoz to ensure victory on the scorecards, he needs to throw more than single shots. In the past two fights, Munhoz has dropped decisions to top Bantamweights, Frankie Edgar and Aljimain Sterling. The Edgar fight especially, Munhoz had extended periods of success, yet his inactivity in equal measure meant that the judges favoured the whirlwind volume of Edgar. Operating behind a sharp leg kick, Munhoz has a great base from which to launch combinations off. Moreover, Munhoz is a tricky customer to get to the mat (stuffing all seven of Aljo’s TD attempts – an achievement itself). Even if a fighter chases the takedown, Munhoz possesses a killer guillotine choke which has submitted quality fighters before (Rob Font, Justin Scoggins).
Unfortunately underrated for his weak finishing rate, Rivera is a true workhorse in a deep division. A granite chin and heart, Rivera mixes volume striking with wrestling to consistently pressure opponents. Rivera has looked sparkling against anyone outside of the top-five, yet whenever Rivera faces a fighter who can handle themselves in the clinch, he has faltered. Recently, Rivera has been relying on his boxing more-so than his grappling, and will almost certainly land more with his hands than Munhoz. Still, Rivera does leave his lead leg out for the opening – a vulnerability against a strong leg kicker in Munhoz.
Predicted Result: Munhoz Decision
An excellent match-up in the Bantamweight division which will certainly lead the victor to a top-five fight. Rivera has somewhat transitioned from a grappler-first-boxer to a boxer-first-grappler, yet can fluidly transition between the two. Against Yan, Rivera was calm off the back-foot and able to scramble beautifully at times – yet was caught with heavy shots too often to win on the scorecards. While Munhoz isn’t going to fashion traps for his big shots as the champ did, he will instead pepper Rivera’s bladed stance with heavy leg kicks. This will be a close one on the cards, but Munhoz’s ability to throw Rivera out of a comfortable stance will allow him to land the more significant shots later on.
Result: Munhoz def. Rivera // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️
Alex Caceres (17-12) vs Kevin Croom (21-12)
It is lovely to see Alex Caceres hit a purple patch in his career. Ever the UFC gatekeeper, Caceres’ flashy kickboxing has shocked more than a few prospects (Chase Hooper, Sergio Pettis) yet his lack of TDD and ineffective grappling have led to his downfall. Quite the surprise then, when Caceres locked in a filthy rear-naked choke in the first-round against Austin Springer in his last outing. While Caceres’ striking is still his bread and butter, the threat of a submission may put off future up and comers from jumping straight into wrestling-mode against him.
Kevin Croom is 1-0 in the UFC, don’t buy into the No Contest on his record. NSAC can succ a fat nut, after overturning Croom’s underdog thirty-second submission victory over Roosevelt Roberts to a no-contest after a positive marijuana test. While an impressive victory, Croom’s shock win stemmed from a flash knockdown before impressively locking in a scarily tight standing guillotine choke.
Predicted Result: Caceres Decision
Croom will find it difficult to get in range of Caceres’ gigantic frame to land flush as he did against Roosevelt Roberts. While Caceres is always a risky fighter to back, his vast experience in the UFC indicates his ability to regularly overcome (what appears to be) a regional journeyman. Croom has a scary arsenal of submissions, and his power can clearly transition to the top promotion, but he will be out-classed badly on the feet by Caceres.
Result: Caceres def. Croom // Decision (unanimous – 30-27, 30-26, 30-26)
Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️
Alexander Hernandez (12-3) vs Thiago Moises (14-4)
As possibly the only Alexander Hernandez fan remaining, I still believe this lad can cause a few upsets in the Lightweight division. Against Moises? Probably not; it is a horrible match-up for him. But with the correct match-making, Hernandez could burn through a hot streak and become a threat to ranked opponents. Finally, returning to his aggressive pressure fighting that resulted in so much success in his early career, Hernandez can thrive on his feet. Throwing hooks from weird angles, dipping at his hips to keep his head moving, and constantly tip-toeing around striking range – Hernandez has the technique and athletic ability to go far.
Moises’ grappling chops cannot be denied. The Brazilian is a menace on the mat. Unfortunately, he has not set the world on fire during his UFC tenure so far. Moises’ greatest downfall so far has been an inability to secure takedowns with consistency against decent opposition. While two takedowns against Bobby Green is (unironically) a great bow to your cap, Moises was denied time on the mat by Beneil Dariush and Damir Ismagulov. As he rises through the rankings and faces more competent grapplers, his struggles will only enlarge unless he grows.
Predicted Result: Hernandez Decision
Hernandez is a fighter who can flag during the later rounds, a huge risk against a top submission artist, but the recent return to his aggressive, pressure fighting roots has me favouring ‘The Great’. After tough learning experiences against Donald Cerrone and Drew Dober, Hernandez’s striking looked crisp against Chris Gruetzemacher, and if he were to end up on the mat, signs suggest he would survive a Moises onslaught. Against Olivier Aubin-Mercier, Hernandez survived a scary kimura/armbar submission and survived off of his back effectively for over three minutes.
Result: Moises def. Hernandez // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Winner ❌ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️
Women’s Strawweight (115)
Angela Hill (12-9) vs Ashley Yoder (8-6)
Angela Hill and her fans may whine and shriek, but she is just as fault for her two-fight slide as are the judges. Sure, Hill stuffed SEVENTEEN takedown attempts from Michelle Waterson, yet the Karate Hottie was still able to secure almost a full round of ground control. Furthermore, Waterson still had the energy to out-volume Hill by almost a hundred strikes. There is no denying that Hill has rounded out her skillset massively in the past few years, but she struggles with output – especially in the later rounds.
Ashley Yoder is a sloppy striker who needs to hit the mat to get her best work off. On the ground, Yoder overwhelms opponents with her size and it allows her to posture up to rain down surprisingly effective ground and pound. While Yoder will often search for a submission after creating an opening through punishment from above, she does struggle to secure finishes. Yoder is a tough cookie that won’t stop prying until the end but she will struggle to keep up with Hill on the feet.
Predicted Result: Hill Decision
These two last fought four years ago in the Ultimate Fighter Finale, and there is little reason to believe that the result will be any different this time around. Hill has rounded out her game since her decision victory and developed her skillset far beyond Yoder. Hill proved in her last outing against Waterson that she is a nuisance to drag down to the mat, and if the fight is to stay standing, her phenomenal speed will always beat Yoder to the punch.
Result: 🚫 FIGHT CANCELLED 🚫
Alex Oliveira (22-9-1) vs Ramazan Kuramagomedov (8-0)
Ya boi Ramazan Kuramagomedov has been forced to pull out of the fight due to illness, and such late notice means Oliveira has been unable to find an opponent. Wishing him a speedy recovery!
Predicted Result: 🚫 FIGHT CANCELLED 🚫
Women’s Bantamweight (135)
Alexis Davis (19-10) vs Sabina Mazo (9-1)
Davis has got to be reaching the end of her career now. On a three-fight slide, Davis has at least dropped decisions to some of the top women at Bantamweight – Viviane Araujo, Jennifer Maia and Katlyn Chookagian. It is crazy to think that the former Bantamweight challenger was one of the initial women introduced to the UFC’s female weight classes. Still, Davis has managed to keep somewhat threatening in a division that is constantly evolving. In large part due to her technical ability, Davis dominates the fight in regards to distance and pace, yet has recently found herself too willing to fight off of her back and bleed rounds on the scorecards.
The UFC are desperate to push Sabina Mazo up the Bantamweight rankings. Mazo’s furious Muay Thai striking is exciting to watch, and at only twenty-three years old, faces a long and successful path ahead of her. A victory over a veteran in Alexis Davis would be a huge statement win for the Colombian prospect. Mazo pushes an intense pace in contests, achieving her best work at distance, but capable of throwing cutting shots in the clinch.
Predicted Result: Mazo Decision
While Davis is far more experienced in the clinch, she will struggle with the pace and superb athletic ability that Mazo offers. At a mid-range, Mazo can pick off Davis who has always struggled with a porous striking defence. Against the cage, Davis can find success, however Mazo has shown effective grappling up until now.
Result: Davis def. Mazo // Decision (unanimous – 30-27, 30-27, 30-26)
Winner ❌ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️
Ronnie Lawrence (6-1) vs Vince Cachero (7-3)
DWCS prospect to pad up the early prelims? What a surprise! Lawrence is a volume striker who favours pressure over accuracy – adopting the philosophy of throw everything and something will stick. Moreover, by shelling up opponents, Lawrence can secure takedowns with greater ease. While there is a lot to refine in Lawrence, his heart and tenacity is championship level already.
Cachero struggled in his last-minute call-up debut against Jamall Emmers. At the higher weight class, Cachero was unable to get inside the reach of Emmers and was the victim of being rag-dolled for much of the night. With a full camp this time, it will no doubt allow Cachero to fight at a more comfortable pace. Bamboozled by Casey Kenney a couple years ago, Cachero’s glaring flaws were static feet when being advanced upon and an inability to keep his elbows tucked to the side. While Lawrence’s striking isn’t at a level to regularly exploit the open liver shot, his swarming offence will force Cachero to shell up.
Predicted Result: Lawrence TKO Round 3
Lawrence is a fast-moving train of pressure and only a competent counter striker will operate comfortably under the pressure he exerts. By throwing volume, Lawrence can work his way into a takedown and onto the mat with greater ease. While Cachero will have a full camp this time around, it is hard to see Cachero dealing with the hellacious pace set by Lawrence.
Result: Lawrence def. Cachero // TKO (punches) Round 3 2:38
Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️
Light Heavyweight (205)
Dustin Jacoby (13-5) vs Maxim Grishin (31-8-2)
Dustin Jacoby is a loose, sloppy striker but his gangly frame comes with ridiculous power. Moreover, Jacoby has surprisingly slick head movement that he uses to feint. Leaning his head on a platter in front of opponents, Jacoby’s feet remain at a safe distance and allow him to retract his head when his foe takes the bait. Jacoby’s chin also bails him out of sticky situations, meaning he can stick around in the pocket and find a counter shot that hurts his opponent more than they ever could.
While fans of the European scene were happy to see Maxim Grishin gifted his chance to compete in the UFC after a long career, it has to be said that Grishin’s chances of ever sniffing UFC gold is almost zero. The boi do have some old man strength, and against Antigulov he was able to use his vast experience to manoeuvre himself off the cage before battering Antigulov at range. Some of Grishin’s scrambles in the second round were far ahead of the garbage we are used to at Light Heavyweight, and his swarming finish proves he still has a killer instinct.
Predicted Result: Jacoby TKO Round 3
A tough one to call as both men possess a wealth of experience, yet Jacoby’s durability will favour him if this descends into a phone-booth brawl by the later rounds. Grishin badly missing weight on the scales has done little to tip this in his favour either.
Result: Jacoby def. Grishin // Decision (unanimous – 29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌
UFC Fight Night 186
2021 MMA Season
Takeaway comments: What an awful night of action (bar the fireworks of Munhoz Rivera 2)