Alistair Overeem fought a pretty well against Jairzinho Rozenstruik, at least for 24:50 of the 25-minute main event of Saturday’s UFC on ESPN fight card. However, as the clock ticked down, Rozenstruik landed a left and then followed up with a massive right that left Overeem staggering around the Octagon with a mangled mug as referee Dan Miragliotta waved things off at 4:56 of the fifth round.
Overeem’s game plan was patience, a high guard and takedowns. That approach had him up four rounds to none on all three scorecards. Had he not caught that 1-2 in the last 10 seconds, Overeem would have won his third straight fight. Instead, Rozenstruik moved his record to 4-0 in 2019 with the UFC with four knockouts. Oh, and he called for a fight with Francis Ngannou, which, sure, why not?
Rozenstruik’s win brought the main card, which began with a barnburner between Rob Font and Ricky Simon, to an end a (too) long four hours after it began.
- We did learn something about Rozenstruik in this fight and that is he is not very good when it comes to takedown defense and getting off his back. Which, when you have the type of fearsome power Rozenstruik has might be acceptable for the heavyweight division, but if he ever faces someone like current champ Stipe Miocic or ex-champ Daniel Cormier, he could find himself in big trouble.
- The two big takeaways from the co-main event were strawweight fighters do not want to tangle with Marina Rodriguez in the clinch and that Rodriguez needs to shore up her takedown defense. Had Rodriguez stopped the single takedown attempt of her opponent, Cynthia Calvillo in the third round, she might have won the fight. Instead, Calvillo took the fight to the mat and outstruck Rodriguez in that round 73 to 5. Instead of a Rodriguez win, the bout ended in a majority draw. If Rodriguez wants to move to the top of the division, she needs to shore up her takedown defense. If Calvillo hopes to regain traction she needs to not come in 4.5 pounds overweight.
- One thing that might make someone rethink retirement is getting cup checked by a 265-pound man. That’s what happened to Stefan Struve on Saturday against Ben Rothwell. Struve wisely took the full five minutes to recover from the low blow. Struve probably thought about walking away in the middle of the fight after he took another low blow in the second round. What I’ll remember about this fight are the groin strikes and referee Dan Miragliotta telling Struve that he was probably ahead on the scorecards and that if he could not continue the fight would likely be a no contest. Miragliotta was out of line telling Struve anything other than how much time he had left to recover from the low blow. Rothwell did win the fight by TKO, but it felt like a hollow victory.
- For the first two rounds of the Aspen Ladd vs. Yana Kunitskaya bout, it seemed as if Ladd was struggling. Kunitskaya was able to hold her against the fence for an uncomfortably long time for a fighter who is supposed to be the future of the women’s bantamweight division. Those concerns went right out the window after Ladd’s corner inspired her to up the aggression at the start of the third round. Ladd clocked Kunitskaya with a left hook and then followed up on the ground with her patented nasty ground strikes to close things out 33 seconds into the third stanza.
- Cody Stamann did not agree with the judges who called his bantamweight Song Yadong a majority draw. Long after Yadong had left the octagon, Stamann milled around the cage. When he did take a post-fight selfie, he raised his middle finger to the camera. It was hard to argue against how he felt, especially since Yadong lost a point in the first round due to an illegal knee and Stamann dominated in all statistical categories. Not a good showing from the judges on this one.
- Rob Font and Ricky Simon gave the rest of the main card something to live up to. In an all-action affair, Font used his superior striking to score a decision win. Simon did land six takedowns during the contest, but he wasn’t able to capitalize on the mat, as Font was able to get the fight back to standing. What made this fight so appealing was the fact that neither fighter took their foot off the gas pedal for the entirety of the 15-minute scrap. It also should be noted that Font had been out of action for nearly a year before he faced Simon. This fight was a good way for him to remind fans what they missed with him away from the bantamweight division.
- Tim Means bounced back from a broken ankle with a submission win over Thiago Alves in their welterweight contest. Both fighters got after it early with aggressive striking, but it was Means who took control when he dropped Alves with a left. Once the fight hit the mat, Means poured on punches and elbows on the ground. Realizing that Alves was protecting himself from those blows, Means smartly moved in for the guillotine choke, which brought the tap from Alves at 2:38 of the first stanza. The short but exciting battle was a solid lead-in to the main card.
- Billy Quarantillo is going to have a good weekend. On Saturday, he started things with a dominant win in his UFC debut and earned his black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. His 31st birthday is on Sunday. Quarantillo’s stats were impressive in his featherweight bout against Jacob Kilburn. Quarantillo’s significant striking rate was 86 percent. He went one for one in takedowns. He had five submission attempts and nine guard passes. Kilburn landed a total of six strikes while spending most of the fight, which ended at the 3:18 mark of the second stanza.
- In March 2011, Chan Sung Jung did what no one ever had in the UFC, win a fight with a twister. More than eight years later, Bryce Mitchell added his name to the list of fighter’s who have earned a submission via that painful technique, when he submitted Matt Sayles in the first round of their catchweight contest. Mitchell is now 3-0 in the UFC and 12-0 overall. The Arkansas native is building a name for himself, this win won’t hurt him in the least.
- Dominant doesn’t quite describe Joe Solecki’s win over Matt Wiman in their lightweight bout. Solecki, in his UFC debut, went four for five in takedowns and controlled the fight on the ground for more than 12 minutes. While on the mat, Solecki racked up the majority of his 177 total landed strikes in cruising to a unanimous decision win over the veteran Wiman, who for some reason decided to trash talk Solecki in the final seconds of the bout.
- Virna Jandiroba’s striking might not be much to look at, but she can handle herself on the ground. She did that in earning a second-round submission over Mallory Martin in their strawweight matchup. I would say the jury is still out on Jandiroba due to her slow striking and because she left her neck open for a choke on more than one of her takedown attempts.
- Makhmud Muradov showcased his striking against Trevor Smith. Early in the fight, Muradov fought behind his jab, he then added body punches to his repertoire. For the majority of the first two rounds, Muradov went with the 1-2 and then backed up to reset. In the third round, he began moving forward and pressuring. The body shots paid off in the third when he got Smith to drop his hands with a body shot. With Smith’s hands low, Muradov blasted him with a right that shot Smith’s mouthpiece into the fence and crumpled Smith to the mat. Muradov is someone to keep an eye on at middleweight.