This is an enormous fight for our heavyweight main event of the evening. Undefeated rising prospect and #7 ranked UFC heavyweight contender Ciryl Gane looks to remain undefeated against a dangerously prolific knockout artist in the #3 contender, Jairzinho Rozenstruik.
Gane is a AFMT Muay Thai national champion who went 7-0 as a professional kickboxer before transitioning to MMA. He is now 7-0 in MMA with six finishes and four UFC wins. Ironically enough, the fighter who finished 71% of his pro kickboxing bouts by knockout won his pro MMA debut by bulldog choke, and has finished three bouts by submission, to match his three victories by knockout.
Tanner Boser is the only fighter to take Gane to the fifteen-minute finish line. Don’Tale Mayes, Raphael Pessoa and Junior Dos Santos have all fallen to Bon Gamin, and the win over Dos Santos catapulted Gane into the heavyweight top-ten. It’s clear at this point in his career that the UFC sees a future and perennial championship contender in Ciryl Gane.
Jairzinho Rozenstruik is no easy test, and is, by far, the most dangerous opponent Gane will have faced at this point in his career. Rozenstruik stands at 11-1 as a professional mixed martial artist, following his illustrious professional kickboxing career, in which he amassed a record of 76-8-1 and won multiple world championships.
Rozenstruik scored over 60 knockouts as a pro kickboxer, and has finished ten of his eleven MMA wins by knockout. All five of his UFC wins have come by knockout, as well as the only loss of his career, at the hands of Francis Ngannou.
This fight has all the makings of a classic heavyweight main event: a peaking contender looking to defend the rank he has come so far to earn, a rising star looking to swap spots in the top-ten, and power beyond measure on both sides.
Gane is a big, lean and athletic striker who will possess a three-inch advantage in reach in this fight. He is rhythmic and almost bounces in his stance, and is a constantly moving target. He’s very patient in his approach and looks to pressure his opponents into the cage. He’s a counter striker who draws out attacks by popping his jab, and throwing kicks to the calf and midsection.
He is effectively in both stances, but his best strike is his right overhand. He does tend to load up on it but his striking is so fast that he still lands it before most of his opponents can see it coming. From his southpaw stance, he’s extremely effective landing kicks to the midsection. He has unreal flexibility, long legs, and his speed translates to his high kicks.
Gane thrives when his opponents chase him. His counter-striking and timing are world class, as well as his head movement. He has the ability to land up to four or five strikes in the pocket while evading opponents’ hooks. At this point in his career, he really hasn’t been subject to much, if any damage. He is so remarkably quick and athletic for a heavyweight that none of his MMA opponents have been able to catch up to him long enough to land very many clean shots.
What’s most impressive about Gane’s striking is his accuracy. Not necessarily the percentage at which he lands, but where on his opponents bodies his hands, shins, knees and elbows land. He angles off, and his jab is on his opponent’s temple before he knows what happened. Gane throws a kick to the gut, and the clap booms throughout the arena. Entering and exiting the clinch, he puts elbows right over his opponents eyes. Even front kicks to the chin are seemingly come easily to Gane.
For as decorated and skilled as Gane is as a striker, his grappling and submission ability are very impressive. His takedowns come from the clinch, usually outside trips. He can also get opponents to the ground using traditional Thai sweeps, which I personally love to see because I have been saying for a long time that I don’t understand why more mixed martial artists don’t use them.
Once on the ground, Gane looks to fold his opponents onto their backs and rain down elbows and hammerfists. He has a variety of submissions, but only really goes for them when he has his opponents hurt on the ground but isn’t finding the knockout. He’s a beast in the clinch, landing knees up the middle, but he usually doesn’t stay there very long.
Grappling likely won’t play a big part in this fight unless Gane plans to take Rozenstruik to the fence or the canvas. Rozenstruik struggled on the ground in his UFC debut against Junior Albini, the only ground action of his UFC career so far. He is a pretty pure striker, and is as good as anyone in this division at shutting the lights out. His gameplay will likely be to wait for the knockout shot in this one.
For as powerful as powerful as Gane is, he isn’t the more powerful striker in this fight. Rozenstruik has faded people with jabs, step-back lead hooks, wobbled people with short straight, the dude has POWER. He’s a patient counter-striker who is waiting for the perfect shot, but doesn’t need it to finish the fight.
Jairzinho succeeds when he lets his hands go. When he feels his opponents power early, he tends to respect it and back off. He sometimes becomes a reactionary fighter rather than a counter striker. But he truly does his best work moving forward and throwing hooks. From distance, he throws solid kicks to the calves and checks low kicks well.
Rozenstruik’s offensive gameplan is pretty simple. He waits for his opponents to expose themselves, and starts throwing hooks. If any of them land, he can end the fight. The thing that is concerning about placing confidence in Rozenstruik is that there isn’t much rhyme or reason to his striking. He isn’t setting anything up, he’s really just kicking from range and throwing the kitchen sink when he gets into the pocket.
If you’re betting on Rozenstruik, you’re effectively betting on the knockout, so you might as well take that prop at +275, which is what we will be using to hedge Gane ITD +100. Gane is a more advanced and athletic kickboxer than Rozenstruik, despite being less experienced on paper. The longer this fight goes, the longer Rozenstruik is going to be chasing Gane and getting pieced up along the way.
A very fun prop to root for here is Gane by SUB at +500. Rozenstruik gives up his back very easily and Gane will gladly take a RNC finish if he isn’t finding the knockout. Grappling could turn out to be part of Gane’s gameplan as well, there’s no reason for him to stand and trade with Rozenstruik if he doesn’t have to.
I also firmly believe there’s no way this fight can go the distance. Gane has looked somewhat labored at the end of some of his three-round fights, and it would be foolish of him to let a fighter with Rozenstruik’s level of power hang around to find a late comeback knockout like he did against Alistair Overeem.