Jairzinho Rozenstruik is gaining a reputation for late-clock heroics.
The Surinamese star has his fair share of fast finishes too (he owns knockouts of nine seconds and 29 seconds in the UFC), but at UFC Vegas 28 he showed how dangerous he is after the 10-second clapper goes off when he put Augusto Sakai away with strikes in Saturday’s heavyweight main event at UFC APEX in Las Vegas.
It was the second time in his past five fights that Rozenstruik finished a fight with just seconds left on the clock. At a UFC on ESPN event in December 2019, he closed out the show with a wild comeback against Alistair Overeem capped off by a vicious punch that split Overeem’s lip wide open and led to the bout being stopped with just four seconds remaining.
Against Sakai, Rozenstruik saw the bout waved off at the 4:59 mark of the first round. His burst of offense wasn’t just instinctual either. At the evening’s post-fight press conference, he told reporters that he was acutely aware of how much time was left in the round and what to do with that time.
“Actually, I heard the clock and [head coach Michael Babb] say, ‘Hey, this is the last 15 seconds,’” Rozenstruik said. “So I picked it up and pushed the pace and I see he was moving too fast and then ‘bop’ and I put him down.””
Rozenstruik’s methodical kickboxing style can lead to stretches of low-volume striking, but when he finds an opening to explode it usually ends in calamity for his opponents. He improved his UFC record to 6-2 on Saturday with all six of those wins coming by way of knockout.
Asked to compare his punching power to the other luminaries at heavyweight, Rozenstruik deferred to current UFC champion Francis Ngannou, saying that his emphasis is on speed as opposed to raw strength.
“No, I don’t feel like that,” Rozenstruik said when asked if he felt he was the hardest hitter at heavyweight. “My coach keeps telling me that I’m one of the fastest guys at heavyweight, but I don’t think I’m the fastest guy. I want to be faster.”
Rozenstruik entered UFC Vegas 28 at no. 6 in the UFC’s official heavyweight rankings and during the in-cage interview following his win, he suggested being matched up with a top-5 opponent though he did not name anyone in particular. He later elaborated, explaining that he has no preference for his next opponent nor is he interested in campaigning for favorable matchups.
“Everybody that’s ranked above, it doesn’t matter what style,” Rozenstruik said. “If this guy’s a wrestler, then I have to wrestle and I have to do my kickboxing. If he’s a kickboxer, then I have to kickbox with him and maybe wrestle with him, so for me it doesn’t matter. I try to make myself more of an MMA fighter than just a kickboxer who’s doing MMA.”
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