Jairzinho Rozenstruik (#6) didn’t entirely do what he said he would – attack first by pushing the pace – but his low-output created a false sense of security for Augusto Sakai (#9), left in a bloody heap by a devastating two-punch combo just before the first round was set to finish. Next? He wants a top-five heavyweight.
Back to his bullish ways
Heavyweight power in a nutshell.
The Surinamese (12-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) was patient in waiting for his opportunity, controlling centre ring as Sakai loaded up on leg kicks, trying to goad him into a mistake.
It didn’t work and after periods of relative inactivity by both, the Brazilian was caught flush as he circled away on the outside across the fence.
He landed a left hook and right cross which instantly flattened Sakai, leaned in for follow-up shots before referee Herb Dean swiftly pushed him off.
Considering what little time was left, it was a rather dramatic finish and one Sakai could’ve prevented with a quicker first step as he tried to evade but backed himself into a corner instead.
No time like the present
He blasted Alistair Overeem in the final five seconds of their December 2019 main event matchup, despite being down on all three scorecards heading into the final round.
Although the scorecards weren’t needed here either, another slow start saw the pair only throw a combined 44 strikes in five minutes.
Sakai, originally scheduled to fight Shamil Abdurakhimov (#7) last month, was given this opportunity against someone ranked even higher and with more to lose.
On a night where fellow heavyweight Walt Harris (#8) had Marcin Tybura (#11) hurt early but got overexcited and was duly punished in the co-main, there was no repeat display from Jairzinho.
“My last fight was terrible, my worst performance. I’ve been working more on movement, boxing and moving. Tonight, it came out. Even the punch I rocked him with, it was [one] I’d worked on for three weeks. It came out and I’m happy.
This [win] is going to put me right back on the map, it’s what people wanted to see. I’m going to look for a quick turnaround. In two or three months, whoever is ready— I’m here.
I want to fight somebody that is above me. It’s a short list, but I’m ready. I want to put myself back in title contention.
The [opponent’s fighting] style doesn’t matter for me. I try to make myself an MMA fighter, not just a kickboxer who does MMA.”
Former champion Stipe Miocic is unlikely to return until late 2021 or early next year, while current titlist Francis Ngannou and Derrick Lewis (#2) are expected to battle for the belt.
Curtis Blaydes (#4) doesn’t have a matchup, so either him or Alexander Volkov (#5) – assuming the Russian loses to Rozenstruik’s conqueror Ciryl Gane (#3) on June 26.
Marcin Tybura beat Walt Harris via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 4:06
Roman Dolidze beat Laureano Staropoli via unanimous decision (30-27 x 3)
Santiago Ponzinibbio beat Miguel Baeza via UD (29-28 x 3)
Gregory Rodrigues beat Dusko Todorovic via UD (30-27 x 2, 29-28)
Montana De La Rosa beat Ariane Lipski via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 4:27
Ilir Latifi beat Tanner Boser via split decision (29-28, 27-29, 29-28)
Muslim Salikhov beat Francisco Trinaldo via UD (30-27 x 3)
Kamuela Kirk beat Makwan Amirkhani via UD (30-27, 29-28 x 2)
Mason Jones vs. Alan Patrick was declared a no contest (accidental eye poke on Patrick)
Manon Fiorot beat Tabatha Ricci via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 3:00
Sean Woodson beat Youssef Zalal via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Claudio Puelles beat Jordan Leavitt via unanimous decision (29-28 x 3)