Rozenstruik vs Sakai Analysis and Prediction

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Jairzinho Rozenstruik (11-1) vs Augusto Sakai (15-2-1)

Heavyweight (265)

Jairzinho Rozenstruik

It only took seven fights in the UFC but we finally have a clear image of the fighter Rozenstruik embodies. A rapid string of early knockouts to kickstart his career left many questions over Rozenstruik’s abilities. The awkward nature of the stoppages, such as knocking out Allen Crowder in nine seconds with a tame jab, further fuelled speculation. A very generous last second stoppage victory over Alistair Overeem may have papered over the cracks, but they were fully exposed last time out by Ciryl Gane. The French prospect looks to be elite already, but Rozenstruik was utterly dismantled over five rounds.

A patient kickboxer, Rozenstruik methodically fights in the octagon. Constantly waving his lead hand in front of his opponent’s face, Rozenstruik maintains control over striking distance from start to finish. Rozenstruik’s explosive bursts appear vicious, but as seen against Gane, his sloppy footwork fails his hands. While bull-rushing will succeed against the majority in the barren Heavyweight division, Gane slickly moved out of the pocket on an angle. Sakai doesn’t own that magic movement, however, and it will allow Bigi Boy to land often.

Aside from the N’Gannou fight, Rozenstruik has shown a granite chin against heavy-handed opponents. Perhaps this is integral to Rozenstruik’s game, as he takes time to make the necessary reads. Preferring to root himself in the pocket, Rozenstruik fights fire with fire. While there are times Rozenstruik will slip into counters, often Rozenstruik rides the punches before returning volume. By popping out a decent volume, Rozenstruik effectively banks on his power eventually gaining him the upper hand.

Augusto Sakai

A hearty volume striker, Sakai seems to lack the physical and technical gifts to rise towards title contention. After dominating his early UFC career, Sakai hit a worrying roadblock against the corpse of Andrei Arlovski. The veteran was able to nullify Sakai’s wild exchanges by remaining composed behind a high guard. Worse yet, Sakai found his chin tagged a few times. Against Overeem, Sakai was bullied against the cage and on the mat after he slowed following a hectic first round.

Sakai is physically huge, so it is a shame that he often falls into his combinations and spoils his work. Using a beautiful teep kick, Sakai had Overeem reeling in the first minute of their fight. Sakai immediately rushed into a clinch and allowed Overeem to reset, never to use the teep again. Rather, Sakai led with a lead uppercut and pushed Overeem to the fence where the veteran was able to trip the Brazilian with ease.

Sakai has recovered for almost a year since the war with Overeem, and won’t need to worry about spending entire rounds on his back against Rozenstruik. Still, Sakai cannot afford to be drawn into 50/50 exchanges in the pocket. While Sakai’s chin could likely hold up to the test, the Brazilian needs to fall back on the earlier stick and move style that benefitted him early in his career.

Predicted Result: Rozenstruik Decision

If you don’t find yourself too excited about this one, then don’t feel ashamed. Neither man is the extreme knockout puncher they are marketed to be, at least not in regards to quality opposition. Rozenstruik’s patient kickboxing relies heavily on his durability and grit to stay in the pocket. With his feet cemented into the ground, Rozenstruik rides incoming punches before returning volume. Ciryl Gane’s stick and move style had Rozenstruik in fits as the Suriname native failed to make a read over their twenty-five-minute battle.

Sakai isn’t a slick enough striker to maintain that game plan for five rounds, but he can certainly find stretches of success with such an approach. Sakai’s lack of ground game won’t be exposed by Rozenstruik, which will allow the towering Brazilian more freedom to walk down Rozenstruik. If Sakai opts for his tried and tested strategy of simply marching Rozenstruik down, then he plays directly into Rozenstruik’s game. Instead, Sakai needs to utilise leg kicks and teep kicks that had Overeem in serious trouble during the early rounds.

The only man to crack Andrei Arlovski's chin during the 2017-Present stretch, Jairzinho Rozenstruik's landed a beauty of a counter left hook during the opening round. | Rozenstruik vs Sakai | Pintsized Interests
The only man to crack Andrei Arlovski’s chin during the 2017-Present stretch, Jairzinho Rozenstruik’s landed a beauty of a counter left hook during the opening round. | Rozenstruik vs Sakai

Want to view analysis and predictions for all the match-ups on UFC Fight Night 189: Rozenstruik vs Sakai?


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