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UFC on ESPN: Overeem vs. Rozenstruik - Predictions and Picks

Scott Newman
SENIOR ANALYST
Preview
03 Dec 2019, 02:53 IST

Alistair Overeem returns to face Jairzinho Rozenstruik in a big Heavyweight clash this weekend
Alistair Overeem returns to face Jairzinho Rozenstruik in a big Heavyweight clash this weekend

The UFC returns to Washington DC for the first time since 2011 this weekend for the final ESPN show of 2019. It’s been a long few weeks since the last UFC show, meaning that despite this one lacking some name value, it’s a more than welcome return for the biggest MMA promotion in the world.

Here are the predicted outcomes for UFC on ESPN: Overeem vs. Rozenstruik.

#1 Alistair Overeem vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik

Veteran Alistair Overeem is looking for his third win in a row
Veteran Alistair Overeem is looking for his third win in a row

The main event for this show was initially supposed to see Alistair Overeem taking on Walt Harris, but due to Harris’s terrible personal news – his stepdaughter was kidnapped and found dead a month after her disappearance – up-and-comer Jairzinho Rozenstruik has stepped in to face off with the veteran, giving us an intriguing Heavyweight clash.

Unbeaten in MMA at 9-0, Suriname’s Rozenstruik joined the UFC in 2019 after an extensive kickboxing career, and he’s parlayed those striking skills to tremendous use thus far inside the Octagon. Junior Albini and Allen Crowder were dealt with in impressive fashion in his first two fights, while his last outing – just a month ago – saw him turn out the lights on former UFC Heavyweight champ Andrei Arlovski.

What does Rozenstruik bring to the table? For a huge guy – 6’2”, 246lbs - ‘Bigi Boy’ is surprisingly quick and agile, but most notably, he hits incredibly hard. Unlike say, Francis Ngannou, who clearly packs insane power into his punches, Rozenstruik is more comparable to someone like Mark Hunt; he doesn’t appear to be punching with much force, but when he hits opponents, they go down. Just ask Arlovski, who was knocked absolutely silly by a simple jab.

Could that be worrying for Overeem? For sure. The Dutch veteran is still just 39 years old, but he’s been fighting professionally for 20 years and this fight will be the 64th in his MMA career alone. And while his chin was never a strong point, in recent fights we’ve seen him wobbled from strikes that haven’t been all that hard.

With that said, those 20 years of experience will likely serve ‘The Reem’ well here. Rozenstruik might be perfect in his UFC career thus far, but against Albini, he spent the majority of the first round on his back or inside the clinch. Granted, ‘Bigi Boy’ was able to get free to eventually TKO the Brazilian, but if Overeem can replicate that gameplan, he can definitely win.

And despite being a world-class kickboxer in his own right – famously winning the prestigious K-1 Grand Prix in 2010 – the Dutchman has proven himself to be a wily veteran who doesn’t always need to rely on his striking skills, especially not in dangerous fights with heavy hitters. After being violently KO’d by Ngannou when they fought in December 2017, Overeem has taken a more safety-first approach, and it’s worked for him.

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Wary of Sergei Pavlovich’s power, for instance, Overeem used his underrated wrestling to secure a takedown before finishing the Russian with violent ground-and-pound. And against Alexei Oleinik, he focused on attacks from the clinch – avoiding the Russian’s ground game and his wild strikes from the outside – before breaking him down with knees to the body en route to a TKO.

Rozenstruik can definitely win this fight; if he catches ‘The Reem’ cleanly then it could be goodnight for the veteran. But overall, I’ve got to favour Overeem here. ‘Bigi Boy’ will likely be feeling the pressure in his first UFC main event, while the Dutchman has literally seen it all.

It wouldn’t surprise me to see Overeem get stunned, but I think he’s going to be able to get the Surinamese fighter to the ground, and from there he’ll finish him off, most likely with his underrated ground-and-pound or potentially with a submission.

The Pick: Overeem via first round TKO


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