Jairzinho Rozenstruik recently scored the biggest victory of his career, so he took aim at the top of the UFC heavyweight division. He hit his target.
After defeating Alistair Overeem recently at UFC Fight Night in Washington, DC, Rozenstruik decided he was ready to enter the realm of title talk. In order to do that, he needs to take another step up the heavyweight ladder. So he called out Francis Ngannou, who currently stands on the second rung of that ladder.
The two fighters agreed and it seems so did UFC officials. ESPN's Brett Okamoto on Thursday reported that sources confirmed both sides have agreed to the bout and it will headline a UFC Fight Night event on March 28 in Columbus, Ohio.
Ngannou and Rozenstruik both have knockout resumes
Rozenstruik (10-0) has been lighting up the heavyweight division from the start of his professional career. In his 10 victories, the Suriname fighter has knocked out all but one of his opponents. That list of knockouts includes the aforementioned Overeem, as well as former UFC heavyweight champion Andre Arlovski and two other UFC opponents.
That certainly puts Rozenstruik on the fast track to title contention, but a victory over Ngannou would land him smack in the middle of it all.
Ngannou (14-3) blazed a nearly identical path through the division prior to Rozenstruik's arrival. Though he lost a decision early in his professional career, the Cameroonian-French fighter won 10 consecutive bouts before losing to UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic. His confidence shaken, he followed the failure to capture the belt with a loss to Derrick Lewis.
It didn't take long for Ngannou to return to stride, as he has since knocked out his last three opponents, which include Curtis Blaydes, Cain Velazquez and Junior dos Santos. That puts his current knockout total at 10. His four other victories have come by way of submission.
Ngannou has done more than enough to return to title contention, but timing is his current foe. The UFC is working to put together a trilogy fight between Miocic and former champion Daniel Cormier, but that isn't likely to happen until Spring or Summer of 2020. Waiting for that fight to happen would put Ngannou out of action for well over a year if he were to sit idly by waiting for the winner.
He will instead headline the UFC's first event in Columbus in more than a decade in a battle of heavyweight knockout artists.
UFC on ESPN 7: Alistair Overeem vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik Recap
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