Two hard-hitting heavyweights, Francis Ngannou and Jairzinho Rozenstruik, will go head-to-head at UFC 249 on May 9, but who will be the last man standing in a bout that could be brought to an end in the blink of an eye?
Francis Ngannou v Jairzinho Rozenstruik Preview: Where is UFC 249 Being Held?
Before I go any further, yes this event is finally going to take place after several ‘false starts’. The state of Florida has deemed sporting events “essential” going forward, and that means UFC 249 will be held at the Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida on Saturday, May 9. It will be the first of two events held at the venue over the space of several days, with Anthony Smith v Glover Teixeira headlining a UFC Fight Night card on May 13 and Alistair Overeem v Walt Harris main-eventing a UFC Fight Night card on May 16.
Francis Ngannou v Jairzinho Rozenstruik UFC 249 Predictions & Tips
Ngannou swiftly established himself as one of the most dangerous fighters in the heavyweight ranks after signing on with the UFC in 2015, blazing a trail of devastation with a string of brutal knockout finishes propelling him to a shot at the belt in 2018. The 33-year-old landed the title shot with a first-round destruction of the legendary Alistair Overeem, but when he stepped inside the Octagon with Stipe Miocic he was clearly out of his depth and was dominated for five full rounds as he failed to complete his rise to the top. A gun-shy Ngannou then dropped a decision to Derrick Lewis when he returned to action a few months later, leaving the Cameroon-born fighter at a crossroads.
Could Ngannou turn things around, or was the hype train well and truly off the tracks? We got our answer when he returned to winning ways with a first-round stoppage of Curtis Blaydes, and then followed that up by making quick work of two former heavyweight champions in a combined time of just 97 seconds. Cain Velasquez was first to fall just over a year ago, and Junior Dos Santos was then added to the list of KO victims when he knocked out in the very first round of the ‘contest’.
So will Ngannou make Jairzinho Rozenstruik his latest ‘victim’ when this bout takes place at UFC 249 on May 9?
Rozenstruik boasts a perfect 10-0 record in professional mixed martial arts, having previously enjoyed a successful as a kickboxer, and he goes into this bout having beaten two of the very best heavyweight fighters in the history of MMA. Andrei Arlovski was taken out in 29 seconds in November 2019, and a month later he claimed the scalp of Alistair Overeem. However, he made much harder work of Overeem than he did of Arlovski. In fact, Rozenstruik could consider himself rather lucky that he had his hand raised. Overeem dominated the contest and looked to be well on course for a decision victory, until Rozenstruik landed a fight-ending punch in the final seconds to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
It is that outing that has me doubting Rozenstruik’s chances here. Ngannou’s stock may have cooled after those back-to-back losses, but he is firmly back on track after those three stoppage successes and it is hard to ignore a man who possesses such terrifying stopping power. Rozenstruik is a talented fighter and packs a punch himself, but in his first real test against one of the best he was exposed. He is not quite ready to be competing at this level and that does not bode well for a meeting with a man like Ngannou, who needs one opening to get the job done. That opening will present itself here and ‘The Predator’ will continue to close in on another crack at the UFC heavyweight title.
Ngannou v Rozenstruik Tips: UFC 249 Fighter Predictions
Francis Ngannou talking to MMA Fighting: “I see this fight is going to end in the first or second round. I see me doing what I usually do. I’m going to take time to set up and read through his game, feel good, and then strike him.”
Jairzinho Rozenstruik: “For me it’s a big challenge and we love the challenge [of facing Ngannou], me and my team. The second point, also for him, he doesn’t have a fight. So he has to be happy he has a fight right now. I think it’s exciting. I’m going to stand in front of him and I’m going to be like ‘this is the fight we wanted, let’s dance.’ I’m happy I got to fight him. I’m a fighter. I’ve been doing this for years.I’m used to knocking big guys out so it won’t be different. It’s blood and meat in there. It’s what I eat, so what is different?”