UFC 252: Junior dos Santos vs Jairzinho Rozenstruik
By Cathal Geeney
Despite only four years in age difference, dos Santos has fought twenty-one times for the UFC compared to Rozenstruik’s five appearances.
However, the disparity in experience does not equate to a disparity in ability as Rozenstruik goes into this as the favourite.
The Surinamese fighter possesses devastating power. Prior to his knockout loss to Francis Ngannou, he had finished all four of his previous UFC bouts inside the distance. Having transitioned into MMA from kickboxing, he will use his jab from an orthodox position to set up combinations.
In terms of kicking, Jairzinho will look to mix his kicks up to the head and body of dos Santos and his kickboxing experience could give him an edge here.
It will be interesting to see how Jairzinho bounces back after suffering the first defeat of his professional career. I expect him to return highly motivated and understanding that a win here will put him right back on track to reach the upper echelons of the heavyweight division.
dos Santos is primarily a boxer and likes to keep the fight standing. He will look to feint and use his jab to set up combinations or land a power shot. He may also target the legs of his opponent with kicks to slow him down.
Although JDS does not generally look for the takedown, he is a BJJ black belt and may look to surprise Rozenstruik with some takedown attempts. This may actually be a clever move to sway the fight his way.
The former heavyweight champ is coming of successive knockout losses and he has almost looked content with taking the defeats in both these losses.
At thirty-six years of age, he’s not particularly old for a heavyweight but a career of almost fifteen years may be taking a toll on him. I would question if he still has the will to become a heavyweight champion again.
Prediction: I am loath to write off dos Santos. I am an admirer of his striking, particularly his elite boxing. However, I am somewhat concerned from his last few fights and I think Rozenstruik will be the hungrier fighter on the night. I expect Rozenstruik to be more aggressive, land harder shots, and take the victory.