- MMA columnist for ESPN.com
- Analyst for “MMA Live”
- Covered MMA for Las Vegas Sun
Jairzinho Rozenstruik was 10-0 in December 2019 following a Hail Mary knockout victory over Alistair Overeem. It seemed at the time that the accomplished kickboxer was on the precipice of something big in mixed martial arts. Since then, Rozenstruik has hit a minor snag, including a lackluster performance in his last bout. But “Bigi Boy” has a chance to get his momentum back Saturday in the main event of UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas against Augusto Sakai.
ESPN has Rozenstruik ranked No. 7 in the world at heavyweight. Sakai, currently unranked, is looking to break his way into the upper echelon of the UFC’s biggest division.
Rozenstruik (11-2) has dropped his last two of three fights. The Suriname native couldn’t pull the trigger in a unanimous decision loss to Ciryl Gane in February. Following a quick knockout loss to top contender Francis Ngannou in May 2020, Rozenstruik did bounce back with a TKO of former heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos last August. Rozenstruik, 33, has several kickboxing titles to his name and is now seeking MMA gold in the future.
Sakai (15-2-1) is one of the most underrated fighters in the UFC heavyweight division. The Brazil native, who is of Japanese descent, won four straight in the UFC before falling to legend Alistair Overeem by fifth-round TKO last December. Sakai, 30, has just that one loss in his past seven fights.
In the co-main event Saturday, Walt Harris meets Marcin Tybura in a battle of heavyweights trying to carve out a path in the division. Harris (13-9, 1 NC) is looking to snap a two-fight losing streak, while Tybura (21-6) has won four straight and seems to really be finding his footing.
Also on the card, Santiago Ponzinibbio faces Miguel Baeza in an exciting veteran vs. prospect battle in the welterweight division, Montana De La Rosa and Ariane Lipski face off in a pivotal women’s flyweight encounter and Muslim Salikhov looks to extend his four-fight winning streak against the durable, 42-year-old Francisco Trinaldo in a lightweight matchup.
Follow live with fight-by-fight recaps from Brett Okamoto and Marc Raimondi or watch on ESPN+.
Fight in progress: Lightweight: Claudio Puelles (10-2, 2-1 UFC, +175) vs. Jordan Leavitt (8-0, 1-0 UFC, -210)
Still to come:
Heavyweight: Jairzinho Rozenstruik (11-2, 5-2 UFC, -125) vs. Augusto Sakai (15-2-1, 4-1 UFC, +105)
Heavyweight: Walt Harris (13-9 1 NC, 6-8 1 NC UFC, +150) vs. Marcin Tybura (21-6, 8-5 UFC, -175)
Middleweight: Roman Dolidze (8-1, 2-1 UFC, -140) vs. Laureano Staropoli (9-3, 2-2 UFC, +120)
Welterweight: Santiago Ponzinibbio (28-4, 9-3 UFC, +100) vs. Miguel Baeza (10-0, 3-0 UFC, -120)
Middleweight: Dusko Todorovic (10-1, 1-1 UFC, -140) vs. Gregory Rodrigues (9-3, 0-0 UFC, +120)
Middleweight: Tom Breese (12-3, 5-3 UFC, -260) vs. Antonio Arroyo (9-4, 0-2 UFC, +210)
Women’s flyweight: Montana De La Rosa (11-6-1, 4-2-1 UFC, -280) vs. Ariane Lipski (13-6, 2-3 UFC, +230)
Heavyweight: Tanner Boser (19-7-1, 3-2 UFC, -170) vs. Ilir Latifi 15-8, 7-6 UFC, +145)
Welterweight: Francisco Trinaldo (26-7, 16-6 UFC, +200) vs. Muslim Salikhov (17-2, 4-1 UFC, -240)
Men’s featherweight: Makwan Amirkhani (16-5, 6-3 UFC, -200) vs. Kamuela Kirk (11-4, 0-0 UFC, +170)
Lightweight: Alan Patrick (15-3, 5-3 UFC, +240) vs. Mason Jones (10-1, 0-1 UFC, -300)
Women’s flyweight: Manon Fiorot (6-1, 1-0 UFC) vs. Tabatha Ricci (5-0, 0-0 UFC)
Men’s featherweight: Sean Woodson (7-1, 1-1 UFC, -180) vs. Youssef Zalal (10-4, 3-2 UFC, +155)
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