Moving on up: Jailton Almeida vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik heavyweight clash booked for May 13

Brazilian Jailton Almeida celebrates after defeating Russian Shamil Abdurakhimov during their heavyweight bout at the Ultimate Fighting Championship...

Jailton Almeida’s heavyweight ascent continues, and not long after his UFC 283 stoppage victory over the recently-released Shamil Abdurakhimov… the heavy-handed Brazilian will soon be in training camp again before facing a stern test in the form of another power puncher: Jairzinho Rozenstruik next – after news today confirmed the matchup is slated for mid-May.

furious finishes for both, last time out

Jairzinho Rozenstruik punches Chris Daukaus in their Heavyweight fight during the UFC 282 event at T-Mobile Arena on December 10, 2022 in Las Vegas,...
Rozenstruik will look to defend his top-10 ranking after blasting Daukaus with ease in Dec. 10

After starting his UFC career with a four-fight winning streak back in 2019, all by knockout, things haven’t gone swimmingly for Bigi Boy post-lockdown.

Having been blitzed by now-former champion Francis Ngannou at UFC 249 in May 2020, the 34-year-old is 3-3 since that startling 20-second stoppage loss. After a return to the win column at Chris Daukaus’ expense, now Rozenstruik faces another pivotal position in three months’ time.

It’s no disgrace to lose against the fighters he has: former interim titlist Ciryl Gane, as well as perennial contenders Curtis Blaydes and Alexander Volkov, but been more about the manner of defeat – underwhelming performances, labouring his way to one-sided beatdowns.

Now, Jairzinho faces someone in the same spot he briefly enjoyed three years prior.

Dana White’s Contender Series graduate Jailton Almeida, who has been unbeaten for five years and logged consecutive Performance of the Night ($50,000) bonuses in his most recent bouts.

The promotion have previously elevated Daukaus [12] and Alexander Romanov [13] with big opportunities without reward, so the logical play to propel Almeida forward makes sense given the ever-growing hype and intrigue around him now after his UFC 283 showing last month.

His second-round stoppage win over Shamil Abdurakhimov was impressive, showing a capability to outclass the Russian across multiple areas. It’d be easy to just label him as a powerful kickboxer, but he drowned him on the ground too – seizing a top-15 ranking to boot.

What I wrote about Almeida’s display last month…

Jailton Almeida of Brazil punches Shamil Abdurakhimov of Russia in a heavyweight fight during the UFC 283 event at Jeunesse Arena on January 21, 2023...
Almeida asserted himself vs. Abdurakhimov during their UFC 283 clash, and the end was soon near

Jailton Almeida was almost a -1000 betting favourite heading into this contest with Shamil Abdurakhimov [14] and within a few seconds, you could understand why.

After landing a high head kick, he absorbed a big right hand – then charged for a takedown and secured a big one, slamming the Russian on the mat, much to the crowd’s delight.

A leg trip takedown gave him a more favourable position closer to the centre of the cage after the 41-year-old returned to his feet briefly, before finding himself in full mount.

Quick, slick transitions saw him secure back control and threaten chokes, while ground strikes – slicing elbows through the guard – landed as the 15-year pro just managed to survive the round.

Fight back was the cry from referee Fernando Portella after R2 started in similar fashion and while he was desperately looking for a way out of danger, Jailton’s quick thinking and physical strength were on display as he dragged him back to the canvas during an ominous sequence.

Soon enough, the home favourite rained down with a flurry of unanswered punches in top position and it was all over (R2 TKO, 2:56). Now on a 13-fight win streak, he’s only behind Islam Makhachev, Sergei Pavlovich and Jalin Turner (all 5) with longer active stoppage streaks.

Now with a number next to his name, he inflicted the fourth straight defeat of Abdurakhimov’s UFC stint and he was released from the roster after that latest beatdown. “I’m ready for whoever,” he declared post-fight. Heavyweight will be glad to have a new contender in the mix.

Once you crack into the division’s top-15, the tests intensify. Heavyweight has, fairly in truth, been criticised for lacking depth below the top-5 for a while, but Almeida possesses potential.

Rozenstruik would benefit from losing some weight – and body fat – fighting at 220-230lbs, rather than the 265lb-limit given his frame, but what he does not lack is fight-ending punch power. Four of his seven UFC victories have come in less than a minute, a statistic which speaks for itself.

The longer it goes, the more you’d naturally favour Almeida – despite only going three five-minute rounds once in his pro career, losing via UD against Bruno Assis on that occasion.

Given what’s at stake for both – elevating respect for Rozenstruik and the latest rung on Almeida’s heavyweight ascent – it’ll be interesting to see how they approach this matchup come May 13.

UFC Fight Night 225, as it stands

Anthony Smith walks out prior to facing Magomed Ankalaev of Russia in a light heavyweight fight during the UFC 277 event at American Airlines Center...
Smith will make his return from injury, looking to protect his top-5 ranking at 205lbs

With almost three full months until then, card is subject to change

Main event at light-heavyweight: Anthony Smith [5] vs. Johnny Walker [7]
Heavyweight: Jailton Almeida [14] vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik [9]
Women’s bantamweight: Jessica-Rose Clark vs. Tainara Lisboa
Welterweight: Matt Brown vs. Court McGee

Picture source: Getty Images

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