The Ultimate Fighting Championship schedule chugs along with a sneaky-good main card at UFC Fight Night 186 on Saturday in Las Vegas. As has been the trend for February, this event offers yet another intriguing and important heavyweight headliner, this time pitting Jairzinho Rozenstruik against Ciryl Gane. There are also significant stakes further down the card. Nikita Krylov faces Magomed Ankalaev in a strong co-feature, and the bantamweight rematch between Pedro Munhoz and Jimmie Rivera might be the best bout on the entire lineup. Add in entertaining veterans like Angela Hill and Alex Caceres, and this becomes a solid six-fight slate.
Now to the preview for the UFC Fight Night “Rozenstruik vs. Gane” main card:
Heavyweights#7 | Ciryl Gane (7-0, 4-0 UFC) vs. #4 | Jairzinho Rozenstruik (11-1, 5-1 UFC)
ODDS: Gane (-265), Rozenstruik (+225)
It was apparent almost immediately that Gane would be a prospect to watch. A talented kickboxer from France, Gane started his professional MMA career in Quebec’s TKO Major League MMA promotion and hit the ground running. Amazingly fluid on the feet for a man his size, “Bon Gamin” quickly dispatched three solid opponents and took the UFC call shortly thereafter. Most prospects with only three fights and a year of pro experience would be too raw for the UFC, but Gane had proven all he was going to prove at the regional level and deserved the step up in competition. As such, he made his UFC debut in August 2019 and had racked up three more wins by the end of the year, two of which surprisingly came via submission. While 2020 figured to be the year in which Gane finally got some big tests, essentially everything went wrong for the Frenchman. Beyond the pandemic, injuries and visa issues for both him and his opponents limited Gane to just one fight on the year, a December knockout of Junior dos Santos. Gane looked every bit the younger and faster fighter that he was against dos Santos, and now he is ready for a shot at the heavyweight division’s upper crust.
Suriname’s Rozenstruik enjoyed his own sudden rise through the heavyweight ranks but with nowhere near the level of hype upon his UFC debut. Rozenstruik was signed as a late replacement in early 2019 and did not have much of a name, as his biggest moment was probably a split decision win in Rizin Fighting Federation a few months prior. He spent much of his debut getting outwrestled by Junior Albini, but “Bigi Boy” eventually turned the tide for a sudden knockout, and from there, it was off to the races. After knockout wins over Allen Crowder and Andrei Arlovski in a combined 38 seconds, Rozenstruik ended the year with a main event win over Alistair Overeem to head into 2020 as a contender. Admittedly, the win over Overeem was not particularly electric; “The Demolition Man” mostly took over the fight against a relatively inactive Rozenstruik until he unleashed a fight-winning barrage in the closing seconds of the fifth round. Rozenstruik could have made the jump to top contender with a May win against Francis Ngannou, but that did not work out so well. Ngannou decided to flurry forward like a maniac, and Rozenstruik’s attempts to essentially counterpunch a speeding train saw him get knocked out for his trouble. However, Rozenstruik rebounded with his own win over dos Santos. Much like he was with Overeem, Rozenstruik was content to wait for an opening that eventually blew open the entire fight open. He will have five rounds to try and quiet the hype around Gane.
If this were any division besides heavyweight, this would be a fairly easy call for Gane. Of the two, he is the much more mobile fighter and more functional kickboxer, mixing up speeds, staying out of danger and even incorporating a solid clinch game as needed. That stands in contrast to Rozenstruik, who is much less inspiring as a whole but much more dangerous. Whether it was the quick knockouts over Crowder and Arlovski or a long slog like the Overeem fight, Rozenstruik is content to just sit back, wait for an opening and change the fight with one or two hard counters. At heavyweight, that approach works: Look no further than the recent main event between Derrick Lewis and Curtis Blaydes. Gane seems headed for a prospect loss, if only because his approach has appeared relatively void of defense. To his credit, Gane did seem much more cautious against dos Santos, his first opponent with a real chance of actually knocking him out. Gane could just snipe his way to a decision win or accumulate enough damage on Rozenstuik to end the fight before he can turn things around. However, in a heavyweight division where fights tend to hinge on knockout power and durability, Rozenstruik has the advantage in the former and is much more proven in regards to the latter. The pick is Rozenstruik via fourth-round knockout.
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