Jairzinho Rozenstruik was 10-0 in December 2019 following a Hail Mary knockout victory over Alistair Overeem. It seemed at the time that the accomplished kickboxer was on the precipice of something big in mixed martial arts. Since then, Rozenstruik has hit a minor snag, including a lackluster performance in his last bout. But “Bigi Boy” has a chance to get his momentum back Saturday in the main event of UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas against Augusto Sakai.
ESPN has Rozenstruik ranked No. 7 in the world at heavyweight. Sakai, currently unranked, is looking to break his way into the upper echelon of the UFC’s biggest division.
Rozenstruik (11-2) has dropped his last two of three fights. The Suriname native couldn’t pull the trigger in a unanimous decision loss to Ciryl Gane in February. Following a quick knockout loss to top contender Francis Ngannou in May 2020, Rozenstruik did bounce back with a TKO of former heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos last August. Rozenstruik, 33, has several kickboxing titles to his name and is now seeking MMA gold in the future.
Sakai (15-2-1) is one of the most underrated fighters in the UFC heavyweight division. The Brazil native, who is of Japanese descent, won four straight in the UFC before falling to legend Alistair Overeem by fifth-round TKO last December. Sakai, 30, has just that one loss in his past seven fights.
In the co-main event Saturday, Walt Harris meets Marcin Tybura in a battle of heavyweights trying to carve out a path in the division. Harris (13-9, 1 NC) is looking to snap a two-fight losing streak, while Tybura (21-6) has won four straight and seems to really be finding his footing.
Also on the card, Santiago Ponzinibbio faces Miguel Baeza in an exciting veteran vs. prospect battle in the welterweight division, Montana De La Rosa and Ariane Lipski face off in a pivotal women’s flyweight encounter and Muslim Salikhov looks to extend his four-fight winning streak against the durable, 42-year-old Francisco Trinaldo in a lightweight matchup.
Follow live with fight-by-fight recaps from Brett Okamoto and Marc Raimondi or watch on ESPN+.
Fight in progress: Welterweight: Francisco Trinaldo (26-7, 16-6 UFC, +200) vs. Muslim Salikhov (17-2, 4-1 UFC, -240)
Results: Men’s featherweight: Kamuela Kirk (12-4, 1-0 UFC) def. Makwan Amirkhani (16-6, 6-4 UFC) by unanimous decision
Featherweight newcomer Kirk, of Arizona, earned an outstanding three-round upset over Amirkhani on short notice.
Kirk only accepted the 145-pound fight a week ago, when Amirkhani’s original opponent, Nate Landwher, was forced off the card. A former contestant on Contender Series who failed to get a contract in 2019, Kirk made the most of the opportunity, as all three judges saw the fight in his favor 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28.
Amirkhani tried to lean on his wrestling to secure the win, and he did manage to take Kirk down in all three rounds. The effort it took to do so, however, might have gassed Amirkhani out, as he appeared to move a bit slower as the fight progressed, and Kirk had a lot of success attempting submissions and reversing position.
Kirk also looked sharper on the feet. He went to work on Amirkhani’s legs with low kicks and landed some good punches to the body in the middle frame. He surrendered a handful of takedowns by going for guillotine chokes, rather than fighting off Amirkhani’s entries, but those takedowns didn’t end up costing him on the scorecards.
Kirk lost to UFC featherweight Billy Quarantillo on Contender Series two years ago. Since then, he went 2-1 fighting for the promotion LFA. Amirkhani drops to 1-2 in his last three.
Lightweight: Alan Patrick (15-3 1 NC, 5-3 UFC 1 NC) vs. Mason Jones (10-1 1 NC, 0-1 UFC 1 NC) results in a no-contest due to eye poke
After an accidental eye poke by @MasonJones1995, referee Chris Tognoni explained the procedure that took place.
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) June 5, 2021
An accidental eye poke looked like it robbed Jones of a likely win, as his lightweight bout against Patrick was ruled a no-contest.
Jones, of Wales, was looking for his first victory in the Octagon, and he was on his way. He nearly finished Patrick, of Brazil, in the opening round with strikes, and Jones was also dominating the second frame.
Midway through the round, however, Jones accidentally caught Patrick’s right eye with his outstretched fingers. Referee Chris Tognoni paused the action, and it was quickly ruled that Patrick could not continue, when he told the ringside docter that could no longer see out of the compromised eye.
It’s a disappointing result for the 26-year-old Jones, who came into the promotion carrying high expectations as a two-weight champion in the U.K. It’s been a rocky start, as Jones lost a unanimous decision to Mike Smith at the start of the year, and now adds a no-contest to his short UFC resume.
Patrick, 37, looked dangerous early on, and he caught Jason with some of his patented, unpredictable offense. Jones settled in as the fight played out, however, and badly hurt Patrick on the feet late in the first round. He followed that sequence with elbows on the ground, opening a cut near Patrick’s left eye.
Women’s flyweight: Manon Fiorot (7-1, 2-0 UFC) def. Tabatha Ricci (5-1, 0-1 UFC) by TKO
Fiorot, aka ‘The Beast from Nice (France),’ dominated Ricci in her second UFC appearance — and likely caught the attention of the flyweight division in the process.
Fiorot finished Ricci via TKO at 3:00 of the second round, as she unloaded a long combination of punches along the fence. The finish came moments after Fiorot dropped Ricci with a running right hand.
It was not an unexpected result, as Fiorot was a sizable betting favorite. Ricci, of Sao Paulo, Brazil, accepted the fight earlier this week after Fiorot’s original opponent, Maryna Moroz, withdrew. Ricci usually competes at 115 pounds, rather than 125.
Fiorot utilized her size advantage in the opening round, and relied mostly on kicks from a distance while she felt Ricci out. Going into the second round, however, it was obvious Fiorot wanted a finish. She stayed right on Ricci from the opening bell, aggressively throwing her hands and even briefly looked for a takedown.
She’s a contender
— Belal Muhammad (@bullyb170) June 5, 2021
Fiorot has only been fighting professionally since 2018, but she’s looked very capable in a 2-0 start in the UFC.
Men’s featherweight: Sean Woodson (8-1, 2-1 UFC) def. Youssef Zalal (10-5, 3-3 UFC) by split decision
A featherweight bout between Woodson and Zalal looked competitive on paper going in, and it certainly played out that way as it resulted in a split decision.
Two judges scored the contest 29-28 for Woodson, while a third had it by that same score for Zalal. Zalal, of Morocco, gave an exasperated look as the scores were read.
According to UFC Stats, Woodson, of St. Louis, landed 118 total strikes to just 46 for Zalal. He struggled to use his height and reach advantage consistently through the fight, but he was the far more active featherweight on the feet.
Zalal countered that with good in and out movement and a lot of control time against the fence and on the ground. He managed to take Woodson down a couple times in the fight and held him there for periods of time, although he didn’t rack up a ton of offense.
For Zalal, it’s his third decision loss in a row. Woodson, 28, improves to 2-1 in the UFC.
Lightweight: Claudio Puelles (11-2, 3-1 UFC) def. Jordan Leavitt (8-1, 1-1 UFC) by unanimous decision
In a battle between two lightweight prospects, it was Puelles who scored a minor upset over the favored Leavitt.
Puelles, of Lima, Peru, defeated Leavitt via unanimous decision, as all three judges scored it 29-28 in his favor. The 25-year-old won the majority of the positional battles, and managed to take Leavitt’s back a couple of times in the second round.
It was not the most exciting 155-pound affair, especially compared to Leavitt’s last fight — a 22-second slam knockout of veteran Matt Wiman. This one turned into a methodical grappling contest, with Leavitt occasionally threatening submissions off his back but Puelles racking up control points on top.
For Puelles, it improves his UFC record to 3-1, and he has now won three in a row.
“I just need a couple more fights and people are going to notice I’m a threat,” Puelles said. “I just need time to train and get better. Every time I step in there, people are going to see my improvements. I’m definitely going to be busy this year. It’s hard to stay relevant with only one fight a year. I hope I can get two more this year.”
Leavitt, who lives and fights out of Las Vegas, falls to 1-1 since earning a UFC contract on Contender Series.
Still to come:
Heavyweight: Jairzinho Rozenstruik (11-2, 5-2 UFC, -125) vs. Augusto Sakai (15-2-1, 4-1 UFC, +105)
Heavyweight: Walt Harris (13-9 1 NC, 6-8 1 NC UFC, +150) vs. Marcin Tybura (21-6, 8-5 UFC, -175)
Middleweight: Roman Dolidze (8-1, 2-1 UFC, -140) vs. Laureano Staropoli (9-3, 2-2 UFC, +120)
Welterweight: Santiago Ponzinibbio (28-4, 9-3 UFC, +100) vs. Miguel Baeza (10-0, 3-0 UFC, -120)
Middleweight: Dusko Todorovic (10-1, 1-1 UFC, -140) vs. Gregory Rodrigues (9-3, 0-0 UFC, +120)
Middleweight: Tom Breese (12-3, 5-3 UFC, -260) vs. Antonio Arroyo (9-4, 0-2 UFC, +210)
Women’s flyweight: Montana De La Rosa (11-6-1, 4-2-1 UFC, -280) vs. Ariane Lipski (13-6, 2-3 UFC, +230)
Heavyweight: Tanner Boser (19-7-1, 3-2 UFC, -170) vs. Ilir Latifi 15-8, 7-6 UFC, +145)