Alistair Overeem is seeking his third straight victory, but Jairzinho Rozenstruik is looking for Breakthrough Fighter of the Year honors after turning in two knockouts in less than a minute of cage time. Who moves forward at UFC DC?
Win or lose, @AlistairOvereem has always had his eyes on the 🏆
— UFC (@ufc) December 7, 2019
If possible, the heavyweight division seems more deadlocked than ever. The title is locked until Stipe Miocic meets Daniel Cormier for a third time next year and top contenders such as Francis Ngannou and Alexander Volkov are stuck in perpetual limbo until then. For competitors like Alistair Overeem, fights like Saturday feel more precarious. A victory would be his third straight and move him back into position to compete for a spot in the title picture, even if that place in line still feels like a long way off.
“The Demolition Man” remains the most decorated striker in the heavyweight division, and he has looked every bit the part in his last two performances where he has turned in back-to-back first round knockouts. He’s fought a who’s who of the division for the past two decades, notching victories over the likes of Junior dos Santos, Fabricio Werdum, Brock Lesnar and others. More recently, he finds the unique challenge of finding new opponents to face as he has already fought most of the top ranked heavyweights on the UFC roster.
— UFC (@ufc) December 5, 2019
Looking to break into that conversation is Jairzinho Rozenstruik. Undefeated at 9-0, “Bigi Boy” has quickly gone from unknown to breakout star in his first year in the UFC. He opened by stopping UFC veteran Junior Albini back in February but it is his last two performances that have garnered him attention. In June he needed only 9 seconds to stop Allen Crowder and followed that up with a 29-second knockout of former heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski last month at UFC 244. After the fight, he asked to step-up in the place of Walt Harris at UFC DC, with the opportunity to jump into the heavyweight title picture against a striking legend in Overeem.
While the perception may be that Rozenstruik came out of nowhere this year, the Surinamese prospect has close to a decade of professional experience in MMA and has also logged over 80 fights in kickboxing in that span. His stopping power is well-established as 64 of his 76 victories in kickboxing have been by finish. It is a percentage that has carried over into mixed martial arts as only one of his nine fights has gone to the distance. A victory over the former Strikeforce Overeem champion would be his fourth in the calendar year. Should he manage to get a victory, by a quick knockout especially, it would be hard to argue against him as the Breakthrough Fighter of 2019.
The men on the marquee 👊
— UFC (@ufc) December 6, 2019
Stylistically, the fight is as likely to end within the opening frame as it is to be a firefight for several rounds. Both men carry an almost absurd amount of credentials in kickboxing and do their best work when throwing heavy shots in the middle of the cage. Overeem does have a big advantage in the grappling department should he choose to take the fight to the ground. If he finds himself struggling, he could look to take the fight to the mat where he figures to have a big advantage and can neutralize the striking threat of Rozenstruik.
Rozenstruik has made it clear that he would like to be matched up with top contender Francis Ngannou with a victory and it would be a tough fight to deny him should he complete his 2019 campaign with four straight stoppages. For Overeem, finding a new opponent to propel him toward the title is more of a challenge but Alexander Volkov stands out as a possible candidate.