MMA Ratings Podcast

December 5, 2019

UFC DC: Jairzinho Rozenstruik Could Be the Heavyweight Division's Next Big Thing

By Adam Martin

The Ultimate Fighting Championship is always on the lookout for new heavyweight title contenders, and it appears to have struck gold with Jairzinho Rozenstruik. The 31-year-old Suriname native made his Octagon debut earlier this year and has already picked up three knockout wins -- over Junior Albini, Allen Crowder, and Andrei Arlovski. He'll go for a fourth when he takes on Alistair Overeem this weekend in the main event of UFC Washington, D.C.

Rozenstruik may be new to the UFC, but he is not new to combat sports. "Bigi Boy" has been competing in kickboxing for over a decade, racking up a 76-8-1 record in that sport while competing for organizations such as K-1. Rozenstruik initially toggled between kickboxing and MMA, winning his first two fights by knockout back in 2012, before taking the next few years to hone his MMA skills, finally deciding to go full-time into MMA in 2017. After winning his next two MMA bouts by knockout, he was signed by Rizin Fighting Federation, scoring a split decision win and another knockout before being recognized by UFC matchmakers and signed to a contract with the world's largest MMA promotion.

When Rozenstruik joined the UFC earlier this year, expectations weren't high. At first glance he looked like a powerful fighter who had been fighting lower-tier competition in lower-tier organizations. We've seen this song and dance before, and rarely do those fighters turn into title contenders in the UFC. But for Rozenstruik, it's been different. His rise has been incredible to watch, and he's gone from a no-name heavyweight to a potential title contender in less than a year.

In his UFC debut, he knocked out Albini with a head kick in the second round. That landed him a fight against Crowder, and he knocked him out in just nine seconds, which was and still is the second-fastest knockout in UFC heavyweight history. The UFC liked what it saw from Rozenstruik in that fight and then matched him up with the former UFC Heavyweight Champion Arlovski at UFC 244. He needed just 29 seconds to brutally finish "The Pitbull" with strikes in his coming-out party.

So when Walt Harris was forced to withdraw from the Overeem fight due to the tragic circumstances surrounding the disappearance and murder of his daughter, the UFC called Rozenstruik to take the bout on short notice. Rozenstruik has gone from someone who wasn't on anyone's radar to fighting a main event bout against one of the sport's top heavyweights. This Overeem bout is a tremendous opportunity to become a title contender.

From what we've seen from Jairinzho Rozenstruik, he looks like a serious prospect. He's been nothing but impressive and very well could be the next big thing in the UFC heavyweight division. That being said, fighting a guy like Alistair Overeem is going to tell us a lot about him. For all his flaws, Overeem is still one of the best heavyweights of all time and is still at the top of his game. However, if Rozenstruik can pass this test, it might not be long until he's fight for the heavyweight title.

Alistair Overeem vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik

UFC on ESPN 7: Overeem vs. Rozenstruik (formerly UFC on ESPN 7: Overeem vs. Harris) takes place December 7, 2019 at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C.

Click HERE for more UFC on ESPN 7 Pre-Fight Analysis

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