The UFC heads to the American capital of Washington DC for Saturday night’s latest episode of UFC action, with a pair of heavyweight finishers topping the bill.
English-born Dutchman Alistair Overeem has been there, seen it, done it and picked up a wardrobe full of t-shirts over the years, and he heads into his 91st professional martial arts contest against a relative newcomer looking to make a name off his own reputation.
Overeem has captured world titles in the Strikeforce and DREAM organizations in America and Asia respectively and won the prestigious K-1 Heavyweight Grand Prix kickboxing tournament after defeating the best strikers on the planet. But since joining the UFC he’s fallen agonizingly short of earning himself a shot at the one prize he hasn’t won – the UFC heavyweight title.
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And with the Dutchman now in the veteran stage of his decorated career, he surely knows that anything other than a victory against knockout specialist Jairzinho Rozenstruik will likely see his chances of a UFC title disappear.
Unfortunately for Overeem, he’s facing a man in devastating form, who has the sort of fight-ending power that could shut his lights out in an instant.
Rozenstruik has already registered the fastest KO in UFC heavyweight history with a 9-second starching of Allen Crowder. He then followed up with a 29-second demolition of former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski.
Overeem’s chin is not showing the same degree of punch resistance we’ve seen from him earlier in his career, things might get difficult for the Dutch superstar early on in DC.
If Rozenstruik catches “The Reem” early, it could be another quick finish for “Bigi Boy”. But if Overeem can drag him into deep water, perhaps by closing the distance and working the clinch against the fence, he might be able to score a finish of his own later in the fight.
But the problem for Overeem is getting close enough to initiate that clinch, and Rozenstruik’s world-class kickboxing may well make that task impossible. Overeem has been overly cautious in his fights in recent years, and that hesitancy may prove to be his undoing.
We see Rozenstruik getting settled, planting his feet and landing on the Dutchman early for another first-round finish.
Jairzinho Rozenstruik to win BY KO/TKO in round 1 – 10/3
Other key picks
The three other main fights on the main card and each feature match-ups that offer the best value with the action going to the judges.
Undefeated Marina Rodriguez faces a high-profile test against Cynthia Calvillo but should have enough in her locker to shut down Calvillo’s submission attack and grind out a win on the scorecards.
Heavyweight Ben Rothwell welcomes seven-foot-tall Stefan “Skyscraper” Struve back from retirement, but his welcome back present isn’t likely to be a pleasant one. Rothwell seems to have his mojo back after a difficult time in his career over the last 12 months. And if he’s on his game, he has what it takes to get the decision win over the towering Dutchman.
And women’s bantamweight contender Aspen Ladd is ready to put her weight-cutting issues behind her as she takes on Russia’s Yana Kunitskaya.
Ladd is one of the strongest wrestlers in the women’s bantamweight division and should be able to use her takedown abilities to take Kunitskaya off her feet and dominate from the top position en route to a decision victory.
Undercard tips summary:
Marina Rodriguez to win by points – 6/4
Ben Rothwell to win by points – 11/4
Aspen Ladd to win by points – 15/8