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This is shaping up to be some fight and when you talk about heavyweight heat, look no further. Both men have the ability to shut the lights off with a flick of the switch. It isn’t often where you have two guys who bring a dynamic ability on two ends. Both Ciryl Gane and Jairzinho Rozenstruik are seasoned, extremely powerful strikers with great trajectories if they can win this fight.
The beautiful thing about the big guys is that sometimes it’s not about who is the more skilled or highly decorated fighter. Rather, it comes down to who wants it more and can uncork the right shot at the right time.
That was proven last week with Curtis Blaydes against Derrick Lewis. The better fighter is Blaydes, but the equalizing power of a true heavyweight can even out that playing field with one punch, as Lewis did.
So what will we get when we lock these two heavy hitters in the cage for a possible 25 minutes? Well, hopefully fireworks. Let’s see how these two heavyweights line up in a fight that can propel one of them upwards in the division.
When you look at Bigi Boy’s record, you need to look past his MMA record and dive a little deeper. On the surface is an 11-1 record in MMA with 10 by way of KO which is impressive in itself. In his one loss, he was flatlined by Francis Ngannou.
However, deeper into the woods of his record is a kickboxing record of 76-8 with 64 KOs and was only finished twice. In 2019 he had the comeback-of-the-year fight against Allister Overeem, in which he was clearly losing for three rounds, but with seconds to spare, uncorked a shot that separated Overeem’s lip from his face.
You can look at this as a good thing, but as an analyst, I do not. Why? Because he was losing the fight and just got lucky with a shot. That will not happen in every fight, and you can’t rely on it to happen either. That was Overeem’s fight to win. He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Taking nothing away from Rozenstruik, he seems to find his spots when the time is right. He isn’t one to have fluent movement and changes in trajectories to build paths for himself. He is much more of a fighter that lets the fight flow to him, and he takes what you give him, firing back as a fighter leaves vulnerable spots.
He will walk you down and tie together a variety of strikes on both levels with his hands and feet. He has a very diverse attack but can be telegraphed at times. What Rozenstruik does so well is moving off the centerline and resetting.
One of his best counters is his leg kicks off his opposition’s attacks. He doesn’t load up and put too much pop on them, but he does put it on a fighter enough to score and let them know he’s there. For the most part, Rozenstruik is going to hunt slowly until he has his opponent on the warning track of the cage.
Utilizing patience, he won’t change gears until he’s ready, but you can expect him to do so at this point. He has a very high IQ when it comes to understanding where power is coming from and how to be pesty off counters.
It’s hard to really tell where his ceiling is, but that’s the great thing about this game. It seems that Gane has the markings to be a very good fighter.
Another fighter that his total resume goes much deeper than his MMA one does, Gane is a very accomplished striker. Built like a pure athlete, he has all the physical tools to beat most. What I like most about him is his ability to absorb common understandings of the fight game. He knows that his striking will only take him so far and implements his grappling in spots when needed. He does a very good job ghosting his game plan.
Due to his unknown ceiling, it seems that Gane is slowly showing wrinkles of his game that he and his team already know that he has, but he hasn’t felt the need to put all his aces on the table.
With very good movement and speed, Gane is going to stay active with a multitude of level-changing strikes. While his body kicks are thunderous, he will utilize his kicks much more than to just inflict damage. He will utilize striking patterns with intent and also use them to move Rozenstruik onto angles to set those strikes up.
The only thing that concerns me with him in spots is the way he will load up and become a little too excited when the finish looks near. Far too many times I see fighters telegraph, load up, and leave the centerline completely exposed. A patient and calm fighter like Rozenstruik may be able to expose something like that if Gane isn’t aware of his distance.
With a record of 7-0, Gane hasn’t faced any real adversity in the cage just yet. However, he has shown the ability to finish on land and sea. With three subs and three KOs, Gane is a threat in both spots until proven otherwise. Even though Gane has gone into the third round three times, I wonder how he will fare if he faces some real adversity.
How will he fare in the fourth and fifth rounds if there is some sort of pace, any damage taken and is in a close fight where he really needs to dig deep? These are all questions that need to be answered.
What I See Happening
I think Bigi Boy will do what he usually does: slow steady pressure on Gane without getting too far into his dance space. He’ll send some warning shots here and there, utilizing his low kicks to see where, and if, he can jockey for some position. I think Rozenstruik is really going to throw a lot of traps out there in round 1 to see if Gane looks like he is biting on anything.
Ultimately, I think Rozenstruik needs to do whatever in order to keep his back off the cage and out of clinch positions where Gane can possibly drag this to the ground and secure top control.
Gane needs to apply enough offense in bunches to stop the forward movement of Rozenstruik and put roadblocks up using just enough offense to keep him honest. Gane must keep the fight out of space and make sure to continue to change things up, never letting Rozenstruik lay a bead on what Gane is doing.
Gane should throw up misleading flares of level changes, and try to secure an early takedown. Rozenstruik knows he has to defend the second level and that will stop him from opening up so freely with his strikes. Most of all, Gane must get Rozenstruik’s back against the cage and drag it to the canvas where I think Rozenstruik will be in a world of trouble.
This is going to be a strategic game of human chess, and it will all boil down to who can jockey their way into positions to get exactly what they want. I think the activity rate of Gane and his wider choice of avenues to take things will be the reason he wins this fight.
Getting in first and finishing the exchanges last will always look good in the judges eyes. It is all about the activity rate here for him, where Rozenstruik is going to wait for his moment. You just have to wonder if that moment ever comes like it did against Overeem. I can’t rest my hate on that.
The Pick: Gane
How I am Betting
Pass… Don’t be foolish. They are heavyweights. There’s no need to lay this much wood in a fight at this weight class unless you are dealing with known commodities like a Stipe or a DC.
100+ Points: 2 of 4
Streak: Four fights won
Finishes: 3 of 4
Avg FP: 93
Hedge: 6 of 7
Gane is an extremely athletic heavyweight with good movement, power in both hands, a very diverse leg game and grappling if he needs it. He has shown the ability to be the total package in the division. With a ceiling that many can’t gauge as of right now, Gane looks to make it five straight. With 50 percent of his UFC fights coming by way of finish, he will have five rounds to work here in a very big spot. With two, high-level strikers, there is obviously upside for a finish, but there is also a chance that their skill sets nullify one another.
100+ Points: 3 of 6
Streak: One fight won
Finishes: 5 of 6
Avg FP: 89.5
Hedge: 3 of 4
Rozenstruik is getting a little disrespected here if you ask me. He should not be a near 3-to-1 underdog. You don’t need me to tell you that there is clear value here on Rozenstruik. $7200 in a five-round fight, with power and upside to finish is a no-brainer. DO NOT expect high output. That is not his game. If you are rostering him, you are not rostering him for his workrate, rather you are rostering him to be patient, find an opening, expose it and finish the fight.