I get it. Nobody enjoys watching heavyweights spending long amounts of time playing patty cake. Jairzinho Rozenstruik heard those complaints too and sharpened his footwork. There were still long periods of inactivity, but he also was far more effective in cutting off the cage and pushing Augusto Sakai where he wanted him with low kicks. It was a buzzer beating combination from Rozenstruik, catching Sakai with a left hook, then a powerful right to floor Sakai. A couple of heavy shots later and the fight was over right before time expired in the first. That put UFC Vegas 28 in the books.
The win doesn’t put Rozenstruik into the title picture – especially given he has a loss to the champ – but it does allow him to remain relevant to the top five picture and play gatekeeper one or two more times before getting an opportunity against someone ahead of him again. More important, he washed the stink off him that enveloped him from his 25 minute stinker against Cyril Gane. It may not have been the cleanest KO, but it sure as hell did the job.
Sakai will likely lose his spot in the top ten, but he’s still youthful enough in the division that I’d be surprised if he didn’t work his way back in there at some point. Given he lacks the one-punch power of others that populate the top of the division – like Rozenstruik – it’s hard to believe he’ll climb higher than that.
As for the rest of the card....
- Maybe we should stop questioning Marcin Tybura’s chin. The Pole ate several hard shots from the explosive Walt Harris, but endured and found a takedown off a caught kick, spinning the momentum of the fight completely from that point. Methodical grappling led to Tybura flattening out Harris and pounding away before the ref stepped in, giving Tybura five wins in a row.
- I know Roman Dolidze is one hell of a grappler, but someone really needs to work on his wrestling. The native of Georgia hung onto Laureano Staropoli for the majority of their contest, unable to finish his takedown attempts. Regardless, it gave him enough control to give him a sleepy decision that would best be soon forgotten.
- After a rough opening round, many were thinking Santiago Ponzinibbio might be at the end of the line. Instead, the Argentinian roared back, starting at about the midway point of the second round to take the fight to a game Miguel Baeza and edging out a close decision. Baeza may have lost his 0, but no one thinks any less of the prospect as Ponzinibbio proved he is far from done in one of the best scraps of the year.
- Though primarily known for his BJJ chops, it was a mix of power punches and powerful double-leg takedowns that gave Gregory Rodrigues a win in his UFC debut. Perhaps Dusko Todorovic’s confidence was shot coming off his first career loss, but he appeared to be a shell of himself for whatever reason. Rodrigues is now looking like the rising middleweight to watch, securing his second win in two weeks.
- Montana De la Rosa made one hell of a statement. Ariane Lipski scored no significant offense, being put on her back early in the first two rounds and eating an assortment of elbow and punches from De la Rosa. Lipski was a bloody mess before the ref stepped in late in the second, giving De la Rosa her first stoppage win in over two years.
- While Tom Breese and Antonio Arroyo didn’t actually fight, it is worth noting the contest was scrapped while the prelims were going on, citing a medical issue with Breese. Given his history with anxiety, that was the conclusion most jumped to.
- The MMA Gods smiled upon Ilir Latifi, granting the walking refrigerator a decision win despite being thoroughly outstruck by Tanner Boser over the course of three rounds. It was a pair of takedowns – one in the first, one in the third – that gave him the win, overcoming a near-finish for Boser in the second round.
- Though there were some momentum swings, there’s no doubt the decision belonged to Muslim Salikhov in his back-and-forth contest with Francisco Trinaldo. Salikov had more big moments – including a knockdown in the first and close one in the second – but credit to the 42-year old Trinaldo for hanging in there and making a fight of it until the end. Excellent scrap.
- It’s official: there isn’t an ounce of hype left for Mr. Finland, Makwan Amirkhani. A lack of urgency allowed newcomer Kamuela Kirk to outwork despite Amirkhani possessing the dominant position for a huge chunk of the contest. Activity and a deep armbar in the second round proved to be the difference, giving Kirk the win on short notice.
- It’s hard to look more impressive in Mason Jones’ first two UFC appearances and not be able to walk away with a win in either. An errant eye poke in the second round to Alan Patrick stopped the contest this time around when Jones appeared to be well on his way to a victory, resulting in a no contest. Anyone who was watching will consider it an unofficial win for the Welshman.
- It’s too early to say Manon Fiorot is going to be a serious challenge for Valentina Shevchenko’s title, but no one would be surprised if she is challenging for it by the end of 2022 after her first two UFC performances. The Frenchwoman dominated an undersized, but game Tabatha Ricci. About halfway through the second, the referee had seen enough, calling for a standing TKO stoppage.
- It was clear both Sean Woodson and Youseff Zalal had worked on some of their weaknesses going into their contest as both looked sharp. Alas, only one could walk away the victor and Woodson’s volume proved to be the difference, Zalal struggling to navigate Woodson’s long reach throughout their back-and-forth contest.
- Not all fans would have enjoyed the grappling session between Claudio Puelles and Jordan Leavitt, but there were some interesting exchanges in there. However, it felt like both were operating in slow motion, neither showing any sense of urgency. Puelles got the win based on maintaining superior positions for greater chunks of time.