Augusto Sakai vs Jairzinho Rozenstruik headlines UFC Fight Night, and we’re expecting the bout to end in a knockout.
The knockout specialists don’t enjoy spending much time in the Octagon, and it’s unlikely they’ll need the full five rounds to air their grievances.
The online sportsbook has Sakai as a slight underdog, but there is little between the fighters.
Sakai’s Winning Streak Broken
The Brazilian had won six consecutive fights before losing to Alistair Overeem at UFC Fight Night in September.
It was Sakai’s first loss since losing a split decision to Cheick Kongo in Bellator, so he hasn’t been losing to no-namers. Sakai’s winning streak was impressive, including knockout wins over Marcin Tybura and Chase Sherman.
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His loss to Overeem came via knockout in the first round. He was fighting well enough to stay competitive, but his defense wasn’t up to scratch.
“Unfortunately, my winning streak was broken,” Sakai recently told MMA Junkie. “But that’s part of the game. The night against Overeem was a time for me to learn. I left a few openings that Overeem was able to exploit by landing his strikes. It took me out of my strategy. It was a big lesson. Now we’ve made many corrections. We’re coming back even stronger.”
He knows that beating Rozenstruik will propel him up the heavyweight ranks for bigger fights.
“I know that a win will improve my ranking and bring on even greater opponents,” Sakai said. “After the fight is done, we’ll figure out our next steps.”
UFC betting markets have Sakai at -105 to win. Given his record, we’re not surprised, but beating Rozenstruik won’t be easy.
Rozenstruik Vying to Overcome Recent Losses
The Surinamese fighter was 10-0 after beating Overeem with a devastating knockout blow in 2019, but his form since has been mixed.
He is a 33-year-old fighter that has won 10 of his 11 fights with a knockout punch. It’s hard not to like his fighting style, but it’s all or nothing, which leaves him open.
His first loss in the UFC came at the hands of Francis Ngannou, who is one of the elite heavyweights in UFC history. He was knocked out 20 seconds into the fight, but his response in beating Junior dos Santos was admirable.
— Robbie Fox (@RobbieBarstool) August 16, 2020
It took Rozenstruik just three months to recover from his first defeat and knock out the Brazilian former champion, and he eyes another Brazilian on Saturday.
His loss to Ciryl Gane wasn’t a surprise as a +210 underdog. It went the full five rounds and he lost by unanimous decision, which was just the second time one of his fights had gone the distance. However, despite the loss, he is still one of the most dangerous fighters on the roster.
The former kickboxer holds the title of second-fastest knockout in heavyweight history when knocking out Allen Crowder in nine seconds. He comes out firing and he’s must-see television.
From his days of street fighting, Rozenstruik has always been in the game. He’s more professional now, but it helped his fighting development.
“When I was young, you know the age of 13, 14, we always had trouble, me and my friends sometimes even five of my friends,” he said in an interview with SCMP. “Like when you’re playing soccer or playing basketball, something goes wrong, end up fighting with two, three people and then run away. When you got two of them hit, start running, coz you know they’re gonna come at you.”
Bettors get -125 for Rozenstruik to win, and although it’s a short price, we thought he could open shorter.
Sakai vs Rozenstruik Pick
They share a passion for scoring knockout wins, so the fighter that lands the first telling blow could win the fight.
We respect the ability and impressive record of Sakai, but we think he will struggle with the power of Rozenstruik, who is one of the biggest power punchers in MMA. He also has a good kickboxing background, so he’s a well-rounded fighter.
We don’t see this fight going to the ground and we don’t see it going five rounds. Bookmakers have the line at 1½ rounds, even juiced to the over at -200 is about the lowest five-round total you will see.
Our money is with Rozenstruik, who is desperate to get a win.