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UFC Vegas 28 Fallout: Rozenstruik best of the rest at heavyweight?

The UFC heavyweight division is in the best shape it’s been in for a decade after Jairzinho Rozenstruik ensured he remained in the conversation for a future title shot.

The Surinamese fighter had lost two of his last three fights after a stunning 10-0 start to his career. He asked for a quick turnaround after his last fight, a defeat to Ciryl Gane, in order to stay active and in the bosses thoughts and was given the opportunity against Augusto Sakai.

He took the opportunity with both hands, with a beautiful first round knockout over the Brazilian to get back in the win column once again.

It was a pretty tight first round, with both fighters putting out feelers for the most part of the fight. Rozenstruik took the centre and used some leg kicks to find range but generally didn’t land anything of note until the knockout blows.

He backed Sakai up to the cage and as he circled out to escape ‘Bigi Boy’ faked with the right hand, landed a flush left hook and the finished the job with a couple of right hands too.

Sakai has now lost two in a row, but Rozenstruik has shown that he is somewhere in limbo in the division right now.

He’s beaten two former world champions in the past in Andrei Arlovski and Junior Dos Santos with vicious knockouts but both of those guys were well past their best at the time. When you look at his defeats, they’ve come against the current champion Francis Ngannou followed by Gane, who completely outclassed him without really shining himself.

Even his win over Alistair Overeem, who was on a good run before and after, came from a hail Mary strike at the end of the round in a fight he’d been dominated in for the most part.

But the win over Sakai now shows that he’s a level above those guys in the running for a top five spot, but whether he’s good enough to beat those above him is unknown now.

Someone in a similar spot is Curtis ‘Razor’ Blaydes, who had gone on a run in the division before getting flattened by Derrick Lewis in February this year in his main event fight.

Blaydes now is without a fight since that knockout loss but is still ranked at number four, ahead of Rozenstruik. It would be a great fight for both men, with a big name bout likely to main event a card but also a win moving them further up in the conversation for title contention.

By the time it took place, the title picture should be clearer and the top five will be more organised after Gane fights Alexander Volkov later this month too.

There is also the potential of a fight with the winner from UFC Vegas 28’s co-main event Marcin Tybura, who made it five wins in a row with a first-round knockout over Walt Harris.

Tybura is likely to move into #8 in the rankings now which would mean the only unmatched fighters ahead of him are Rozenstruik and Blaydes too. Number seven ranked Shamil Abdurakhimov is due to take on number ten ranked Chris Daukaus in July so Tybura could face the winner of that too if the timetables match up.

But with genuine contenders now filling up the rankings, the UFC is set for an exciting spell of fights in the heavyweight division and Rozenstruik is looking to be heavily involved in that.

UFC Vegas 28: Rozenstruik vs Sakai – Results (Highlights)

EARLY PRELIMS

Claudio Puelles def Jordan Leavitt via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Interesting start to the fight as both men trade leg kicks and body kicks before Leavitt changes levels and shoots in for a takedown. Puelles immediately rolls through to try and reverse but Leavitt holds onto the single leg and forces a scramble for the position. Neither men give anything up and eventually Leavitt is able to get into the guard but only for a few seconds before Puelles kicks him off. Leavitt doesn’t let go and tries to hold him down again but Puelles is eventually able to get back to the feet where they trade leg kicks again. Puelles shoots in for a takedown this time but Leavitt defends it pretty well before Puelles gets into his guard with about 40 seconds left. Neither fight lands any real offence as the round comes to an end. 10-9 Leavitt probably.

Second round more of the same early on from both guys with a few rangy kicks before Leavitt shoots in for a single leg takedown again. Puelles defends it well once again and manages to reverse to end up on Leavitt’s back, but he’s able to reverse into a kneebar attempt to escape and ends up with Puelles in his guard again. Puelles stands up and avoids an up-kick before landing a big left hand as Leavitt looks to get back up and they end up on the ground once again. Puelles looks to take the back and starts throwing a few strikes to free it up but Leavitt is defending faitly well. Puelles locks in a body triangle with 30 seconds to go but nothing else happens and the round ends. 19-19.

Puelles opens up the round with a takedown early on this time and he gets it easily, with Leavitt pretty content to work from his back currently. Leavitt tries to scramble back to his feet but Puelles doing really well to shut it down and starts landing some ground and pound too. Position over submission for Puelles so far but Leavitt is trying to get up again and goes for an inverted triangle but Puelles avoids it pretty easily. Puelles in the north-south position but not doing enough so the referee stands them up with 90 seconds to go, only for Puelles to score an instant takedown once they resume. A bit of ground and pound but nothing crazy and Puelles should waltz to the victory 29-28.

Sean Woodson def Youssef Zalal via Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)

Fast paced start to this one as Woodson takes the centre and looks to pump out his jab, while Zalal is firing leg kicks and firing overhand rights to counter. Zalal starts landing some nice strikes from the middle and Woodson starting to back up a bit, so Zalal shoots for a takedown. Woodson is able to stuff it against the cage though and then lands a couple of nice kicks before a left hand wobbles Zalal! Zalal recovers well and seems to have the speed advantage so is landing first and preventing the jab of Woodson from being effective. Zalal moves in for another takedown but Woodson defends it well against the cage again before they break and Zalal goes for a double leg this time and gets it to end the round on top. 10-9 Zalal but close round.

Woodson comes out strong in the second round and lands some nice body kicks to back Zalal up, but the ‘Moroccan Devil’ avoids it and goes in for a takedown against the cage once again. Zalal breaks and lands an elbow before shooting back in again, then lands another elbow as they separate again. Woodson loading up with kicks and Zalal finding it pretty easy to avoid them, but Woodson lands a nice straight left. Zalal throws a nice left hook that lands before both guys trade leg kicks and then Woodson lands a nice left hand and jab again. Zalal shoots for a takedown against the cage with 20 seconds left but Woodson synchs up a guillotine but just runs out of time. 19-19 for me.

More of the same at the start of the final round as Zalal goes for another takedown and puts Woodson against the cage, but he is able to defend it well again and break out into the centre. Woodson takes the centre and is forcing Zalal backwards now, landing some decent strikes but then Zalal shoots in again to stop that momentum. Woodson throws a couple of nice knees to the body and is looking for a guillotine again but Zalal picks him up to escape with a minute to go. Zalal shoots in again but Woodson switches it and goes for a guillotine from the top, but Zalal explodes out and they get back to swinging to end the fight. 29-28 Woodson but close for sure.

PRELIMS

Manon Fiorot def Tabatha Ricci via Knockout, Round 2 (3:00)

Tentative start from both ladies early on as Fiorot uses her significant size advantage to land he patented side kick and jab. Ricci circling on the outside and bursting with some flurries, but Fiorot staying calm and composed and lands a nasty body kick. She follows up with a nice left hook straight to the chin, but Ricci keeps moving and looking for an entry. Huge left straight from Fiorot down the pipe lands and easily denies a takedown attempt. Fiorot fires off a combination but Ricci just about slips it and gets away. Fiorot has the centre and lands a big left hand again but Ricci responds with a nice strike as the round ends. 10-9 Fiorot but Ricci is showing promise.

Fast start to the second round for Fiorot as she starts to hunt Ricci down and throw combinations against the cage. Fiorot goes for a takedown inexplicably but Ricci denies it and eats another combination up top. Ricci trying to throw some leg kicks but Fiorot checks and keeps coming forward, clinching up and landing two big elbows. Fiorot steps forward with a big combination and drops Ricci and starts teeing off! Ricci gets back to her feet but Fiorot keeps pouring it on and eventually the referee mercifully steps in to end it. Huge knockout win!

Alan Patrick vs Mason JonesNO CONTEST (Accidental eye poke)

Absolutely wild first round to start as Jones takes the centre of the octagon and looks to counter some crazy strikes from Patrick. The Brazilian shoots for a takedown but Jones avoids it and lands a nice right hand. Patrick throws some spinning kicks and back fists but Jones is slipping then and responding with big counters. Big exchange of punches from both men as Jones lands a left hand that staggers Patrick. Jones pushes forward with more pressure and Patrick clinches up and pulls guard but Jones starts smashing him with ground and pound. Big, heavy elbows from top position and huge strikes from the top and the referee nearly waves it off but he just runs out of time. 10-9 Jones, great round.

Patrick opens the second round with some more wild techniques before Jones steps in, gets a trip and starts working from top position once again. Some nice ground and pound strikes land but Patrick is able to jump back to his feet. He eats a big left hand and then an accidental eye poke causes a stop. Patrick tells the doctor he can’t see and the fight is waved off. Tough break for Jones.

Kamuela Kirk def Makwan Amirkhani via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28 x2)

Steady start to the fight from both guys as they look to feel each other out early on. Amirkhani shoots in for two takedowns but Kirk is able to slip his leg out both times pretty easily. Kirk steps forward and looks to land a right hand but Amirkhani then steps in to close the distance with another shot. This time he gets hold around the body of Kirk and throws him over his head and refuses to let go, before securing a trip and getting heavy on top. Kirk is able to push Amirkhani off and get up relatively quickly though and with no damage before a nice left hand clips Amirkhani. A bit of pressure from Kirk but the round ends, 10-9 either way.

Good start to the second round from Kirk as he steps in with some nice body work and a few straight right hands. Attempted flying knee just misses from Kirk, who then lands a massive right hand right to the side of the head. Three big body shots in a row from Kirk and Amirkhani shoots in again for a takedown but this time gets it, with Kirks attempts at a guillotine and heel hook coming to nothing. Amirkhani now in top position, staying heavy but Kirk throws up a triangle armbar and it’s tight! He locks it out and extends but Amirkhani refuses to tap and the buzzer goes. 20-18 to Kirk for me but could be 19-19 or 20-18 the other way too to be fair.

Final round and Amirkhani lands a big left hand clean on the chin to open up. Both guys look tired and after another left hand from Amirkhani he shoots for the takedown and secures it. Amirkhani heavy on top again, but Kirk throws up another triangle that just can’t get locked up. Kirk gets him back up to the feet but Amirkhani keeps hold of him and drags him down to the mat again, but this time Kirk reverses it and ends up on top. Kirk throwing body shots from the top as Amirkhani just holding him down to stall for time. Kirk postures up and lands a big left hand and the round ends with a stalemate for position. Super close fight, honestly could go either way.

Muslim Salikhov def Francisco Trinaldo via Decision (30-27 x3)

Very tense opening to this fight as both men throw out lots of feints and feelers early on, with Trinaldo coming forward. Salikhov throws a beautiful body kick that slaps, but Trinaldo rushes forward and lands a nice left hand in response. Salikhov taking his time and trying to counter, lands a big overhand right after missing with a left hook and then throwing a big body kick again. Trinaldo coming forward in bursts again and lands a nice left hand to the chin. Salikhov throws a leg kick but it gets checked and then follows up with a big left uppercut that drops Trinaldo! He follows up with some big ground and pound but Trinaldo stays calm on his back and sees it out until the bell. Whew! 10-9 Salikhov.

Good start from Trinaldo in the second round as he comes forward again and bull-rushes Salikhov, landing a nice right hand. Salikhov looks for the uppercut again that just misses, but then follows up with a couple of right hands himself that do land. Trinaldo lands a nice left hand before Salikhov lands a huge right hook that wobbles Trinaldo again! Trinaldo swings some huge punches after he recovers but Salikhov slips them all and lands some nice right hands of his own in between to really start piecing Trinaldo up. Salikhov is seeing the punches coming now and slipping then countering as he throws Trinaldo to the ground. 20-18 Salikhov but Trinaldo is still in this fight.

Final round and Trinaldo comes out swinging once again, but Salikhov counters with a left hook and gets a big eye poke for his troubles. After a pause in the action Trinaldo comes forward and lands a big left hand to that eye that wobbles him. Salikhov responds with a body kick and leg kick, but Trinaldo continues to come forward and look for that big left hand. Salikhov lands a nice leg kick and pushes Trinaldo to the ground at the same time, then eats up some time with a few leg kicks to his grounded opponent too. The referee stands him up and Trinaldo continues to come forward again as we enter the final minute as Salikhov lands a nice straight right hand. Big left hand from Trinaldo forces Salikhov to change levels and dump Trinaldo to the mat to see out the final 30 seconds and surely claim a win. 29-28 Salikhov for me.

Ilir Latifi def Tanner Boser via Split Decision (29-28, 27-29, 29-28)

Boser taking the centre early on and being the aggressor with some head kick attempts. Latifi just circling on the outside as Boser bounces around and feints some strikes, before another kick attempt gets caught and Latifi puts him on the mat immediately. Latifi works from guard into side control and looks to grind, but Boser is able to swivel his hips and explode back to his feet. Boser steps in with some nice jabs and a left straight but Latifi looking to clinch up every time. Boser lands another big jab and throws another two kicks to see out the round. Tough to score to be honest but I lean to Boser.

Latifi looking to punch his way in early in the second round, stepping forward with a nice overhand right. Boser responds with good foot work and his jab, slipping Latifi’s big punches and just piecing him up rather than landing bombs of his own. Boser steps forward and lands a big right hand that makes Latifi go down holding his eye, but the referee doesn’t step in and Boser goes for the kill! Huge ground and pound strikes against the cage but Latifi defends himself well and eventually clinches up. He shoots for a takedown but Boser defends it and goes for his jabs once again to end the round. 20-18 Boser for me.

Final round and Boser steps out with his jabs again but Latifi goes for an early takedown this time and gets it. Straight into Boser’s guard and this time Latifi is throwing some ground and pound strikes with heavy top pressure, stopping Boser from doing anything significant from his back. More grinding ground and pound from Latifi for almost two minutes at the end of the round and it’s his round but I think Boser will get the nod. 29-28 Boser for me.

*TOM BREESE VS ANTONIO ARROYO CANCELLED DUE TO A MEDICAL ISSUE FOR BREESE*

MAIN CARD

Montana De La Rosa def Ariane Lipski via Knockout, Round 2 (4:27)

Very patient start to the fight from both women, as Lipski using some feints as De La Rosa keeps the distance short. A few kick attempts from Lipski but eventually De La Rosa closes the distance, secure a body lock and gets Lipski to the ground. De La Rosa stays heavy on top and works her way to full guard where she starts raining down elbows and cuts Lipski wide open to the side of her eye. Lipski not doing much to get up and De La Rosa is able to just land big strikes at will here as the round ends. 10-9 De La Rosa.

Second round and Lipski lands a big right hand immediately, but De La Rosa shoots and gets the takedown perfectly in response. De La Rosa is able to slide into side control and has Lipski against the cage, keeping her in a really tough position and landing those big elbow strikes once again. Lipski is threatening with a kimura but it doesn’t have much hope and then De La Rosa slides into full mount and starts raining down huge elbows and punches. Lipski trying to roll away but De La Rosa refuses to let her and just keeps thumping away until the referee steps in and ends it! Huge win for De La Rosa!

Gregory Rodrigues def Dusko Todorovic via Decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)

A super start to the fight from the UFC newcomer as Rodrigues steps forward and is landing his power jab well. Rodrigues firing his right straight perfectly too and is catching Todorovic clean very, very often. A clinch up against the cage sees Rodrigues with a judo throw put Todorovic down, but he gets back up to his feet immediately. More crisp right hands land from Rodrigues as Todorovic just eats them, but he’s walking back with his chin high. Todorovic lands a nice right hand of his own to see out the round but that’s a Rodrigues round clearly. 10-9.

Rodrigues coming out aggressive in the second round and finding a home for that right hand over and over again. Some digs to the body from Rodrigues and another big right hand, before a power double leg secures him a takedown too. Todorovic tries to get up using the cage and eats a knee to he head but is able to get away. Rodrigues lands a big straight right hand on the chin again as Todorovic steps forward and throws a little flurry. Final minute and Rodrigues slips a punch and lands a beautiful left-hook, right hand combo. 20-18 Rodrigues, but he’s start to slow down a little.

Third and final round and Todorovic looks like he’s still trying to make reads. Good jab lands twice and forces Rodrigues backwards, but he replies with another big right hand that lands flush. Rodrigues goes for a takedown but Todorovic defends it well this time. Rodrigues steps forward again and lands some big combinations and then eats a jab for his trouble. Rodrigues lands a big right hand once more and then goes to the body, but Todorovic replies with a nice left hand of his own. Into the final 30 seconds and Todorovic lands some great body shows but eats another right hand. Todorovic goes for the takedown at the end of the round but the buzzer goes and it should be a win for the newcomer.

Santiago Ponzinibbio def Miguel Baeza via Unanimous Decision (29-28 x3)

Fast paced start to this one as Ponzinibbio takes the centre of the cage and looks to land some jabs and his right hand as backs Baeza up against the fence. Baeza responding with his kicks, throwing a lot of heavy leg kicks to the lead leg and throwing his right hand behind it. Baeza blasting those calf kicks and forcing Ponzinibbio backwards, and then he lands a nice left-right hand combo. Ponzinibbio comes forward again and lands a nice left hand but Baeza is throwing more and more leg kicks and they’re really totalling up now. Big flurry from Ponzinibbio at the end of the round lands a couple of strikes but ultimately that’s a Baeza round. 10-9.

Fantastic start to the round from Baeza as he targets the calf kicks once again. Baeza lands three body kicks in a row and as Ponzinibbio throws a jab he gets kicked in the calf once again. Big overhand right from Baeza wobbles Ponzinibbio but Baeza stays calm and doesn’t go straight for the kill. Ponzinibbio throws a few calf kicks of his own and a nice right hand but Baeza then goes back to work with the leg kicks. Ponzinibbio starting to land his jab a lot more now as he comes forward with a big flurry of strikes. Ponzinibbio coming forward constantly and is landing lots of strikes in the second half of this round with big combinations to end the round. 19-19.

Fast start to the final round too as Ponzinibbio steps forward again and they trade jabs. Baeza lands two leg kicks again then follows with a right hand that staggers Ponzinibbio. The Argentine continues to come forward with the lead jab and is now throwing a right hand behind it, but Baeza retaliates with a nice right hand combo to the head and body. Ponzinibbio lands a huge flurry and Baeza is hurt, but Baeza lands two right hands and hurts Ponzinibbio right back! Body kick from Baeza before a left hook lands from Ponzinibbio! Both men trade huge leg kicks and exchange wild hooks. Big uppercut from Baeza but Ponzinibbio lands a big one-two, followed by a Baeza right hand again. Both men spend the final 30 seconds going absolutely crazy with hooks and power punches, with Ponzinibbio getting the better of the exchange to end the round! What a fight! 29-28 Ponzinibbio for me.

Roman Dolidze def Laureano Starapoli via Unanimous Decision (30-27 x3)

Staropoli comes out very early and very quickly with a solid body kick, followed by two heavy leg kicks. He goes for a head kick that misses and Dolidze immediately shoots in for a takedown. Staropoli gets to his feet against the cage but Dolidze keeps a body lock and drags Staropoli down over and over again for almost the full round. A few knees to the thigh from Dolidze but otherwise a pretty dull round. 10-9 Dolidze.

Second round starts with an immediate power double leg from Dolidze who gets the fight down momentarily before they end up against the cage once again, in the same way as they did the first round. Staropoli eventually is able to spin away and get away from the grip of Dolidze and then lands a couple of kicks again. Big left uppercut from Staropoli lets Dolidze change levels and get another takedown. More clinching against the cage as Staropoli tries to escape and finally he does, before going for a takedown of his own and the same stalemate occurring again. 20-18 Dolidze.

Third and final round and we see more of the same from both fighters, with Staropoli unable to get his striking game going at all because of Dolidze’s strength whenever he gets close. Dolidze holding him against the cage throughout and any spec of danger is evaded. 30-27 Dolidze, next please.

Marcin Tybura def Walt Harris via Knockout, Round 1 (4:06)

Fast start to the round from Harris as he comes forward with intent and starts throwing bombs early. Huge rights and lefts from Harris landing clean but Tybura still standing and wobbling. Harris tries to clinch and goes for knees, then throws a flurry of hooks that drops Tybura again. He goes for a finish but Tybura drives forward for a takedown and gets it against the cage. Harris does well but then Tybura catches a kick and sweeps the leg to get on top. He transitions to the back and puts one hook in, working for a rear naked choke. He then starts landing heavy strikes that are having a big effect on Harris and eventually the referee steps in and ends the fight! Huge knockout win for Tybura!

Jairzinho Rozenstruik def Augusto Sakai via Knockout, Round 1 (4:59)

Slow start to this one as Rozenstruik takes the centre and flicks out a leg kick or two, but generally both guys just feeling each other out for now. Another leg kick is matched by Sakai this time and then goes for another but Rozenstruik catches it and just misses with a counter right hand. Sakai throws a right hand that misses and Rozenstruik fires back with an overhand that whistles past Sakai. Rozenstruik backs Sakai against the cage and throws a flurry of shots but Sakai defends well. He does it again and this time lands a left hook right hand and Sakai is down! He lands a couple of follow ups just before the horn goes but it’s all over! Huge win!

UFC Vegas 28: Rozenstruik vs Sakai – Main card predictions

The UFC returns after a two week break for an extra long card headlined by the big boys as Jairzinho Rozenstruik takes on Augusto Sakai in the main event.

Rozenstruik was on a tear in the division but has lost two of his last three fights, but knows a win over Sakai will keep him in the conversation for a potential title shot in the future.

Last time out at UFC Vegas 27 we went 7/11 with three perfect picks to go up to 321/505 (63.56%) with 139 perfect picks (43.3%).

We’ll look to improve that here on this huge 14 fight card and having started with the early prelims and completed the prelim picks here, here’s the picks for the main card.


Tom Breese (12-3) vs Antonio Arroyo (9-4) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A fun middleweight scrap to open the main card as Tom Breese and Antonio Arroyo both look to get back into the win column. Breese is 1-2 since 2020, knocking out KB Bhullar at UFC Fight Island 5 in between stoppage losses to Brendan Allen and Omari Akhmedov at UFC Fight Island 8 in January this year. Arroyo on the other hand has lost two-in-a-row, dropping decisions to both Andre Muniz and Deron Winn.

Breese is a powerhouse of a striker with good takedowns and fantastic jiu-jitsu from the top, but on his back he almost seems to freeze against anyone who can get him there. Arroyo is also a grappler but he has really struggled since coming into the UFC and has completely frozen every time he’s got in the octagon.

Breese is in a bit of a rut right now but his skillset is far too well rounded to be caused problems by Arroyo and he should win this one pretty comfortably.
PICK – Tom Breese via Submission, Round 2

Dusko Todorovic (10-1) vs Gregory Rodrigues (9-3) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

A short notice middleweight clash as Dusko Todorovic looks to put the first defeat of his career behind him when he takes on replacement opponent Gregory Rodrigues. Todorovic had won ten in a row heading into UFC Fight Island 8, where he was knocked out in the first round by Punahele Soriano. Rodrigues replaed Maki Pitolo on a two-fight win streak, having won his last fight just two weeks ago.

Todorovic is a good kickboxer with some decent kicks but really good straight punches and power. An issue he has however is that he often steps out of exchanges with his hands low and chin high, which could allow for the powerful Rodrigues to cause an upset. The Brazilian is a solid striker himself but he also some good grappling skills to work with and Todorovic on the ground isn’t something we’ve seen much, if any, of.

The short notice nature of the bout makes Todorovic a wide favourite, simply because he has good combinations and hand speed and is at his best when pressuring opponents. Rodrigues could catch him with a big overhand, but the most likely option is Todorovic gets a win with a big blitz.
PICK – Dusko Todorovic via Knockout, Round 1

Santiago Ponzinibbio (28-4) vs Miguel Baeza (10-0) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

An epic welterweight fight in this one as fan favourite Ponzinibbio looks to get back into the win column against the undefeated Miguel Baeza. Ponzinibbio returned after over two years away just to get knocked out in round one of his comeback by Jingliang Li at UFC Fight Island 7, while Baeza’s last fight was a submission win over Takashi Sato.

Ponzinibbio is a brilliant striker, with huge power in his legs and hands and real explosive power. He’s also a more than decent grappler, but he’s got nothing on Baeza when it comes to the ground game. Baeza is a tremendous grappler but also has exceptional power on the feet as shown by his seven knockout wins in his career. The old version of Ponzinibbio would have won this fight no question, but the version who fought Li is likely to lose.

Baeza has had trouble against guys who force him backwards, which Ponzinibbio will likely do, but he’s got such big knockout power in his hands that you have to now question ‘Gente Boa’s’ chin. It’s going to be one-sided, but it completely depends on which Ponzinibbio turns up and after so long away, I just don’t think the old version exists anymore.
PICK – Miguel Baeza via Knockout, Round 2

Roman Dolidze (8-1) vs Laureano Staropoli (9-3) – (Middleweight/185lbs)

Another highly entertaining middleweight clash on this card of big men as Roman Dolidze looks to get back to winning ways against Laureano Staropoli. Dolidze suffered the first defeat of his career when he dropped a decision to Trevin Giles at UFC Vegas 22, while Staropoli has lost his last two to Muslim Salikhov and Tim Means at UFC Vegas 6.

Dolidze is a solid wrestler, who looks to get takedowns and secure top position as much as possible before landing his good ground and pound game, while Staropoli is a man who prefers to stand and strike if he has the option. It’s a real clash of styles, but there is a big size difference between the two. Dolidze was fighting at 205lbs not long ago while Staropoli has fought at 170lbs in the past and that could be a big factor here.

Staropoli has the striking advantage, but Dolidze will be able to get hold of him and get him down to the ground for long spells of control and a decision victory.
PICK – Roman Dolidze via Decision

Walt Harris (13-9 1NC) vs Marcin Tybura (21-6) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

A banger at heavyweight in the co-main event as ‘Big Ticket’ Walt Harris looks to get back in the win column against Marcin Tybura. Harris was knocked out by Alistair Overeem last year before Alexander Volkov outclassed him and stopped in in round two at UFC 254. Tybura is on a four-fight win streak after beating Sergey Spivak, Maxim Grishin at UFC 251, Ben Rothwell at UFC Fight Island 5 and Greg Hardy at UFC Vegas 17.

Harris is as much a first-round heavyweight that there is in the UFC. He’s got incredible power in his hands, winning all 13 of his victories via knockout, and has a relatively poor gas tank considering the level he fights at. Tybura on the other hand is a tidy striker with good techniques and some leg kicks too, but a fantastic gas tank and really good takedowns too.

This was just a weird fight to make in the first place considering their recent records, but it’s also one of those that is quite lopsided stylistically too. Tybura can piece him up on the feet or take him down and land ground and pound to get a comfortable win.
PICK – Marcin Tybura via Decision

Jairzinho Rozenstruik (11-2) vs Augusto Sakai (15-2-1) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

A heavyweight main event that sets up the cushion for those in the heavyweight title picture as Jairzinho Rozenstruik takes on Augusto Sakai. Rozenstruik is 1-2 in his last three, getting starched by Francis Ngannou before a big win over Junior Dos Santos and defeat to Ciryl Gane most recently. Sakai had won six-in-a-row before his last fight, getting knocked out and dominated by Alistair Overeem.

Rozenstruik is an excellent, technical kickboxer with some legitimate one-punch knockout power in his arsenal too. Sakai is also a big, powerful striker and his biggest problems have come against guys who have grappled him and closed the distance. Rozenstruik won’t do that, but he’s without doubt the more technical striker of the two and I’d argue he has the power advantage too.

Both of these guys have big power but while I’m not totally sold on Rozenstruik as a top level guy in this division, he is better than Sakai for me and I expect him to get a spectacular knockout win here once again.
PICK – Jairzinho Rozenstruik via Knockout, Round 3

UFC Vegas 28: Rozenstruik vs Sakai – Prelims predictions

The UFC returns after a two week break for an extra long card headlined by the big boys as Jairzinho Rozenstruik takes on Augusto Sakai in the main event.

Rozenstruik was on a tear in the division but has lost two of his last three fights, but knows a win over Sakai will keep him in the conversation for a potential title shot in the future.

Last time out at UFC Vegas 27 we went 7/11 with three perfect picks to go up to 321/505 (63.56%) with 139 perfect picks (43.3%).

We’ll look to improve that here on this huge 14 fight card and having started with the early prelims here are the rest of the prelim picks for you.


Alan Patrick (15-3) vs Mason Jones (10-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

A fun welterweight clash between the experienced Alan Patrick as he takes on the highly rated Mason Jones. Patrick is on a two-fight skid, losing to Scott Holtzman in 2018 before a defeat to Bobby Green last time out at UFC Vegas 10. Jones on the other hand got beaten in his UFC debut in a really close fight on Fight Island 8 back in January against Mike Davis.

Patrick is primarily a wrestler, using takedowns to get top control and then keep his opponent down for long enough to secure a judge’s decision as his nine career decision wins show. Jones on the other hand is a gladiator, who steps forward with good boxing skills and a steady set of all-round skills. Jones’ takedown defence is sufficient enough to either completely stuff them or be able to get back up quickly and he has the power and accuracy to hurt Patrick.

The ageing Brazilian’s only path to victory is to hold Jones down and considering the way both their last fights went, it doesn’t look likely – especially at welterweight.
PICK – Mason Jones via Knockout, Round 2

Francisco Trinaldo (26-7) vs Muslim Salikhov (17-2) – (Welterweight/170lbs)

The super experienced ‘Massaranduba’ returns from nearly a year away from the octagon to take on another highly rated welterweight, ‘King of Kung Fu’ Muslim Salikhov. Trinaldo has won his last three in a row, including a knockout win over Jai Herbert at UFC Fight Island 4, while Salikhov has won his last four including a split decision over Eliseu Zaleski dos Santos at UFC 251.

Trinaldo has spent the last eight years at lightweight and has put that size advantage to good use, but now returns to 170lbs as he hits 42 years of age. He has good grappling skills and a wicked left-hand, but Salikhov while 36 himself has so many advantages on the feet. Salikhov uses lots of kicks in his attacks and has crisp, fast striking to go with it. Trinaldo will likely look for a takedown but without his usual size advantage he could struggle to find it, leaving Salikhov to pick him apart on the feet.

In the end the speed, accuracy and power advantages mixed with his footwork and gas tank mean Salikhov gets a stoppage late on.
PICK – Muslim Salikhov via Knockout, Round 3

Tanner Boser (19-7-1) vs Ilir Latifi (15-8) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)

A heavyweight throw down as ‘The Bulldozer’ takes on ‘The Sledgehammer’ in an interesting fight on the undercard. Boser went 2-1 in 2020, KO’ing Phillipe Lins at UFC Vegas 4 and Raphael Pessoa at UFC Fight Island 3 before losing to Andrei Arlovski at UFC Vegas 13, while Latifi has lost each of his last three fights to Corey Anderson, Volkan Oezdemir and Derrick Lewis.

Boser is your typical heavyweight, with decent striking but he throws a leg kick very hard and heavy all the time. Latifi is quite undersized for the division and is only a heavyweight because of a poor diet, but his style is more physical than most. He likes to clinch and look for takedowns but Boser is far too mobile for that and on top of his size advantages is durable enough to take any big punches Latifi might land.

In the end, Boser circles and uses his jab and straight punches well to prevent any sort of takedown and cruise to a comfortable decision win.
PICK – Tanner Boser via Decision

Makwan Amirkhani (16-5) vs Kamuela Kirk (11-4) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

A super fun fight at featherweight between two exciting 145lb-ers as ‘Mr Finland’ takes on ‘The Jawaiian’ on short-notice. Amirkhani has lost two of his last three, getting a win over Danny Henry at UFC 251 in between defeats to Shane Burgos and then Edson Barboza most recently at UFC Fight Island 5. Kirk makes his UFC debut on a little over one-weeks notice on a two-fight win streak having picked up a TKO win just two weeks ago in the LFA.

Amirkhani is a grappling wizard on the mat with 11 submission wins in his career, with fantastic wrestling and exceptional front chokes. Kirk on the other hand is a slick jiu-jitsu fighter in his own right, but he has got excellent boxing and incredible pressure to back his opponents up. Stylistically it’s not a fun match up for Amirkhani but the short notice nature could be enough to help him out.

Despite that though, I think Kirk is solid enough on the ground to not get finished early and if he keeps the fight standing he has a big striking advantage to get a fun win.
PICK – Kamuela Kirk via Decision

Montana De La Rosa (11-6-1) vs Ariane Lipski (13-6) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

A return to the cage for Montana De La Rosa as she takes on the ‘Queen of Violence’ in the first women’s fight of the night.

De La Rosa has just one win in her last four, losing to Andrea Lee before a win over Mara Romero Borella. She followed that up with a defeat to Viviane Araujo, before a draw against Mayra Bueno Silva at UFC Vegas 20. Lipski on the other hand saw a two-fight win streak, after wins over Isabela de Padua and Luana Carolina, ended by Antonina Shevchenko at UFC 255 by knockout.

De La Rosa is a fantastic grappler on the mat but her poor takedown game has often seen her struggle against top opposition. Lipski’s striking game lives up to her nickname but defensively her grappling game is essentially non-existent. De La Rosa has shown that she’s pretty durable when it comes to the stand up game and with her style on the mat, it’s hard to see this going any way other than her getting the fight down and beating Lipski up.
PICK – Montana De La Rosa via Decision

UFC Vegas 28: Rozenstruik vs Sakai – Early prelims predictions

The UFC returns after a two week break for an extra long card headlined by the big boys as Jairzinho Rozenstruik takes on Augusto Sakai in the main event.

Rozenstruik was on a tear in the division but has lost two of his last three fights, but knows a win over Sakai will keep him in the conversation for a potential title shot in the future.

Last time out at UFC Vegas 27 we went 7/11 with three perfect picks to go up to 321/505 (63.56%) with 139 perfect picks (43.3%).

We’ll look to improve that here on this huge 14 fight card, starting with the early prelims.


Claudio Puelles (10-2) vs Jordan Leavitt (8-0) – (Lightweight/155lbs)

A very fun lightweight fight should open the card as ‘El Nino’ returns after 21 months away to take on the undefeated ‘Monkey King’. Puelles hasn’t fought since September 2019 when he beat Marcos Mariano, while Leavitt won his UFC debut in just 22 seconds by KO’ing Matt Wiman via a violent slam at UFC Vegas 16.

Puelles’ last two wins weren’t the most impressive, considering he got absolutely battered and pulled out a hail Mary kneebar in the third round before beating one of the least impressive lightweights ever in Mariano. On the other hand Leavitt has got excellent wrestling and grappling skills while also having some exciting striking skills too, despite his only knockout being the slam last time out.

Realistically, Leavitt should absolutely dominate wherever this fight goes and if he can’t get a finish it’ll be a very lopsided decision win.
PICK – Jordan Leavitt via Decision

Sean Woodson (7-1) vs Youssef Zalal (10-4) – (Featherweight/145lbs)

Two highly rated featherweights go head-to-head next when ‘The Sniper’ takes on ‘The Moroccan Devil’ at 145lbs.

Woodson suffered the first defeat of his career last time out when he was submitted by Julian Erosa at UFC Vegas 4, while Zalal is on a two-fight losing streak. Zalal was able to beat Jordan Griffin at UFC Vegas 4 and Peter Barrett at UFC Vegas 6, but then got well beaten by Ilia Topuria at UFC Fight Island 5 and Seung Woo Choi at UFC Vegas 18 in February.

Zalal is a good wrestler by nature with a decent array of strikes in his arsenal, but against Choi he really struggled to get either of those attacks going. Woodson is a boxing-heavy fighter who has great takedown defence, but he has shown that he’s been able to be ground down before. Zalal will need to push the pace, but unfortunately for him that isn’t really in his style and Woodson is likely to be able to out-volume him and keep the fight standing for long enough to secure a win.
PICK – Sean Woodson via Decision

Manon Fiorot (6-1) vs Maryna Moroz (10-3) – (Flyweight/125lbs)

Two highly-rated flyweight prospects go head to head in this one as Fiorot looks to continue her fledgling career against ‘The Iron Lady’.

Fiorot has overcome a debut defeat to win six-in-a-row, including her last four via knockout. Her UFC debut ended with a head-kick knockout win over Victoria Leonardo at UFC Fight Island 8 in January, while Moroz is 5-3 in the UFC including decision wins over Sabina Mazo and Mayra Bueno Silva in her last two.

Fiorot is an excellent kickboxer who uses her kicks well to keep a distance before landing power strikes, while Moroz is a combination boxer with terrific speed and technique. The problem she’ll have however is that Fiorot has a big power and defensive edge and on top of that has a ground game she can fall back on too.

Moroz is durable but she’s never been hit the way Fiorot can hit her and I think think the French ‘Beast’ keeps her knockout streak going.
PICK – Manon Fiorot via Knockout, Round 2

Jairzinho Rozenstruik wants to stay among the title conversation with win over Augusto Sakai

For the first time in several years the UFC’s heavyweight division is actually pretty exciting.

After years of Stipe Miocic dominating the top of the division and fighting once or twice a year, followed by three years or Miocic vs Daniel Cormier, we finally have some sort of contender queue.

Francis Ngannou is the man reigning over the division currently, following his stunning knockout win over Miocic in March at UFC 260. But there is a backlog of fighters ready to step up if called upon.

Jon Jones is at the head of the table, ready to make his division debut if a financial package can be agreed among all parties. That seems unlikely right now, which puts Derrick Lewis as the most likely man to fight ‘The Predator’ in his first title defence.

Beyond those, you have Ciryl Gane and Alexander Volkov who are on impressive win streaks and are set to meet each other next month in a huge top five clash. Then you have Jairzinho Rozenstruik, who had been on a tear until Ngannou turned his lights out at UFC 249.

Having won four-in-a-row from his debut onwards by knockout, including former champion Andrei Arlovski and Alistair Overeem, Rozenstruik was KO’d inside 20 seconds by the now-champion. He bounced back from that with a knockout win over another former champion in Junior Dos Santos, before being outclassed by Gane in his last bout.

Now though he steps into another main event where he knows a win gets him back into the conversation for a fight with the guys currently in the title picture.

He’s currently in that limbo period of his career where he’s beating the guys under the elite fighters, but losing to the elites. Overeem and Dos Santos are the biggest wins of his career and neither are part of the UFC roster anymore, which tells you where they were in their careers.

He fights Augusto Sakai next, who has beaten the likes of Arlovski, Marcin Tybura and Blagoy Ivanov since joining the UFC. But he was absolutely battered by Overeem last time out and looked well out of his depth.

If Rozenstruik gets beaten, he’s well and truly out of the conversation for now. Sakai doesn’t have the appeal of Rozenstruik to make a push for the title himself but can elevate his reputation, whereas the Surinamese kickboxer can really stamp himself on the division to prove he belongs with the top guys and the top guys only.

He’s by no means at the front of the queue with a win, regardless of how spectacular or impressive his performance is. But it will show the UFC that they can’t keep matching him against guys that are also trying to build up to the title, because he deserves to be higher up in the food chain than to act as a gatekeeper so early in his career.

A win likely matches him up with the loser of the title fight or Volkov should he lose to Gane and he’s got a way to go to actually have a legitimate claim to the belt, but it keeps him in the conversation and that’s the best thing for him right now.