UFC 249: Francis Ngannou vs Jairzinho Rozenstruik Preview
By Jack Rainbow
One of the most exciting fights at UFC 249 sees two heavy-hitters, Francis Ngannou and unbeaten Jairzinho Rozenstruik face off for a likely number one contender spot in the heavyweight division.
Since losing his title bout against Stipe Miocic and then dropping a decision against Derrick Lewis, Ngannou has been in devastating form, finishing his last three opponents within the first round. Rozenstruik meanwhile is coming off a destructive late walk-off finish of Alistair Overeem, which infamously tore Overeems lip in half.
Therefore, on paper, it is safe to say this is unlikely to go the 15-minute distance. Both have ridiculous punch power and neither are gun-shy. The momentum that each fighter possess equally adds to the intrigue and many analysts such as Dan Hardy have said with confidence that they believe this fight could easily end within a minute.
However, many fans have apprehension. This stems from the now infamous fight between Lewis and Ngannou which set a record for the lowest number of significant strikes within a three-round battle.
When two heavy hitters stand-off, it is possible for a stalemate. Both men have the power to end the fight with one punch, and there is always the possibility that there could be a painful awareness of this.
However, in this case that is unlikely. Ngannou went into that fight with Lewis after a painful reality check from his aforementioned title fight, and he has been open about his anxiety of a repeat of that in the cage. In this case, he comes into this fight on the back of three seriously impressive victories, such as the 26-second finish of heavyweight legend Cain Velasquez and he is in the best form of his career.
The bookies have Ngannou as a clear favorite and this is reflected by the Vegas oddsmaker having him at -270.
This mostly stems from Rozenstruik’s struggles in Washington with Overeem, where he was clearly down on the cards up until the late finish.
Overeem was able to catch him with multiple overhand left and exposed big holes in his ground game, taking him down with ease. However, Rozenstruik showed his power, and cardio does not fade, whilst also proving his clear belief in his ability to find the finish so late. In a division where everyone has a punchers chance due to the sheer size and weight behind every punch, to disregard the unbeaten kickboxer would be crazy.
He showed in the fights against Andrei Arlovski that he is technically very astute, with the knockout coming from a beautifully timed left-hook, and Ngannou is unlikely to take this fight to the ground, where Rozenstruik is clearly weaker. He equally has shown, like Ngannou that he is capable of getting it done early, with none of his first three UFC fights lasting a full minute.
In the ridiculously small 4oz UFC gloves, it is hard to see this one going on for too long. Both men are strikers by trade, and neither are gun shy.
The winner is likely to be the number one contender in the currently log-jammed heavyweight division waiting for the eventual victor of Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier, with their trilogy being slated to happen in the fall.
The fight, therefore, has real significance and is one I would recommend not to blink as if you do you may just miss a highlight-reel knockout.