UFC Vegas 28: Slugfest Expected for Rozenstruik vs Sakai

Jairzinho Rozenstruik vs. Augusto Sakai, UFC Vegas 28
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JUNE 04: (L-R) Opponents Jairzinho Rozenstruik of Suriname and Augusto Sakai of Brazil face off during the UFC Fight Night weigh-in at UFC APEX on June 04, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Augusto Sakai will be seeking a highlight reel knockout as they look to move back up the rankings at UFC Vegas 28.

For the first time since before he entered the UFC, the respect for the power of “Bigi Boy” appears to have been stripped away.  After surging to a 10-0 start in his career, including several quick finishes in the Octagon, the threat of the finishing ability of Jairzinho Rozenstruik was very real.  But in the last year, losses to Francis Ngannou and Ciryl Gane have cooled expectations.  While there is still reasonable caution, Rozenstruik’s performances against Gane and Alistair Overeem have given fighters confidence that they can stand with the Surinamese knockout artist for five rounds.

Now going into his third UFC main event, Rozenstruik is looking to stop his skid down the heavyweight ladder at a time when the division is experiencing one of its most competitive years in a long time.  A climb back up the rankings is not out of the question, his losses have only come against the current champion and a top contender who is currently booked for a title eliminator.  When you remember that Rozenstruik is the fighter who finished his first three UFC fights under a combined two minutes, it’s not out of the question that the right performance could propel forward once again.

For Augusto Sakai, the bout is a second chance to have a breakthrough in the heavyweight division.  After starting his career in his native Brazil, Sakai joined Bellator in 2013 and went 3-1-1, with his only loss coming to former two-time title challenger Cheick Kongo.  After hitting free agency, he competed on Dana White’s Contender Series: Brazil where he won by second round finish to earn a UFC contract.

After going 4-0, Sakai was given a step up in competition with a matchup against surging contender and former Strikeforce and Dream champion Alistair Overeem.  Despite a great effort, Sakai came up short and is now looking to bounce back from the second loss of his career.  However, it would appear that the UFC still has great faith in his abilities by pairing him with Rozenstruik who has only lost to elite competition.  While a title shot isn’t expected with a victory, another top five opponent is.

Stylistically, the power of Rozenstruik will face the more technical style of Sakai.  While Rozenstruik has vast muay-thai experience behind him, he does his best work in the pocket where he can create openings to capitalize at close range.  Sakai must take care to keep the fight at mid to long range and not get into exchanges.  Both Overeem and Gane showed that a patient approach and disciplined defense were keys to victories over Rozenstruik and Sakai should look to follow a similar blueprint.

Surveying the current heavyweight landscape, it would appear that a matchup with top ranked contender Curtis Blaydes makes the most sense.  With Blaydes looking to bounce back from a loss to Derrick Lewis earlier this year, a matchup with the winner of Rozenstruik vs Sakai would serve to move the winner back up the rankings.