UFC Vegas 20: Who Will Fall Between Rozenstruik and Gane?

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Jair Rozenstruik and Ciryl Gane face off ahead of UFC Vegas 20
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - FEBRUARY 26: (L-R) Opponents Jairzinho Rozenstruik of Suriname and Ciryl Gane of France face off during the UFC weigh-in at UFC APEX on February 26, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

It is expected that one will fall when heavyweight strikers Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Ciryl Gane collide this Saturday at UFC Vegas 20.

Taking on a relative newcomer is plenty of risk for a fighter who could be on the shortlist for a UFC title shot.  But when you have the experience of Jairzinho Rozenstruik, it’s just another day at the office for “Bigi Boy.”  The veteran of over 80 kickboxing fights skyrocketed up the UFC rankings after joining the promotion in 2019 where he made a case for Breakthrough Fighter of the Year after stopping three of his four opponents in less than a combined three minutes of competition.  He capped off the campaign with a Comeback of the Year candidate, stopping MMA and K-1 veteran Alistair Overeem in the closing seconds of a bout he was losing.

While his 2020 saw him suffer the first professional loss of his career in blistering fashion to Francis Ngannou, the Surinamese knockout artist bounced back with a finish of former champion Junior dos Santos in August.  While there is plenty to be excited about in the heavyweight division as of late, Rozenstruik finds himself with a unique task: He has far more combat sports experience than Gane and is expected to come out victorious, but he could find himself being used as a springboard should he come up short in the wildly unpredictable sport of MMA.

Just three years into his professional career, Ciryl Gane has a huge chance to leap into title contention at a time when the heavyweight division has plenty of interest.  Starting his combat sports career in Muay Thai, Gane accumulated a 7-0 record in there before transitioning to mixed martial arts.  Starting his MMA career in Canada, the Frenchman was quickly signed to the UFC after just three professional fights and made his promotional debut in 2019.

His UFC career got off to an excellent start with three victories in 2019 that included two submission victories and a decision over recent upstart Tanner Boser.  Unfortunately, 2020 was fraught with several struggles that kept Gane out of the Octagon.  A fight with Shamil Abdurakhimov was scheduled and cancelled four times between April and October for different reasons and bouts with Sergei Pavolovich and Ante Delija also failed to materialize after being booked.  In December, Gane was finally able to enter the cage with a high profile bout against former champion Junior dos Santos that he won by second round TKO.

While the heavyweight title is already locked in with back-to-back contenders with Francis Ngannou and Jon Jones, the winner of Rozenstruik vs Gane could find themselves in a short notice title fight should anything happen to either title challenger.  That said, it is expected that the winner will face Derrick Lewis next for a chance to lock in their shot at the title after it is sorted out.

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