UFC DC: Breaking down Alistair Overeem vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik

Elias CepedaYahoo Sports Contributor
(L-R) Alistair Overeem knees Aleksei Oleinik in their heavyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at Yubileyny Sports Palace on April 20, 2019 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
(L-R) Alistair Overeem knees Aleksei Oleinik in their heavyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at Yubileyny Sports Palace on April 20, 2019 in Saint Petersburg, Russia. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Deep into his already long career, Alistair Overeem (45-17) is still a contender at heavyweight as he heads into a UFC main event bout Saturday against fellow two-sport combat athlete Jairzinho Rozenstruik (9-0). The two kickboxers-turned MMA fighters divided by nearly a decade in age are both riding win streaks, and each bring in fight-stopping weapons into their matchup.

Overeem, now 39 years of age, has won two-straight and four out of his last five bouts with three of those wins coming by way of KO or TKO. Rozenstruik, 31, has yet to lose in his MMA career and has made a splash in the big league of the sport by winning his first three fights in the UFC, all in 2019.

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Rozenstruik looks to win his fourth in 2019 and to do so against one of MMA’s stalwart veterans in Overeem. Overeem has slimmed down a bit in recent years but will still hold a height advantage over Rozenstruik.

At length, Overeem has great rear roundhouse kicks, especially to the legs. He also has a good jab when he wants to use it.

The former Strikeforce champion often does a lot of his best offensive striking work on the inside, however. It isn’t uncommon to see Overeem slip behind an extremely low peek-a-boo type guard and then roll into big overhand rights or thunderous left hooks.

Once within close range, Overeem can do heavy work with knees to the body. Overeem closes distances quite fast, even at his size and age. The Dutchman is relatively conservative and efficient with his energy output, but when he decides to throw he can still do so, fast, and in combination, attacking all levels of his opponent’s body.

Rozenstruik finishes his punch combinations up with kicks quite nicely, similarly making his attack levels difficult to predict. He might be best, however, when overly zealous opponents attempt to chase him down and Rozenstruik can show off his fantastic counter-punching timing. To that end, Rozenstruik often retreats and effectively lands stunning lead jabs or left hooks on charging opponents.

When that happens, his accuracy and punch technique mix dangerously for his opponents with the force of their own rushing, resulting in nasty and concussive timing. Rozenstruik hits aggressive opponents when they don’t expect it, even when he’s moving backward, and that’s why even jabs from him can drop rivals.

Neither Overeem nor Rozenstruik keep their hands up very high while going on the offense, so it is quite conceivable that either one can catch the other one with a clipping shot, coming in. Some of Overeem’s recent big KOs have shown him using great timing and speed, but also doing so with his head and face completely open.

If Rozenstruik can see Overeem’s charges, coming, the head will almost certainly be uncovered.

Rozenstruik is young and training with great coaches and training partners so he’s likely no sitting duck when it comes to areas of the fight that aren’t free-range kickboxing, but Overeem is a proven entity at the highest levels when it comes to effective clinching, wrestling and ground work.

Overeem has good takedowns and is a tactical striker while on top on the mat. He uses good cross-body hand and arm trapping to aid his cerebral ground striking attack and opponents who find themselves looking up at him don’t often have their night end well.

Either heavyweight is seemingly capable of knocking the other out, here. It will be interesting to see if Overeem can put Rozenstruik at a serious disadvantage in the clinch and on the mat, and who will have superior conditioning if the bout drags on into the fifth round.

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