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UFC Vegas 28: Rozenstruik vs. Sakai - Winners and Losers

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The real winners and losers from UFC Vegas 28

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Jairzinho Rozenstruik was one of the big winners at UFC Vegas 28.
Jairzinho Rozenstruik was one of the big winners at UFC Vegas 28.
Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

If Jairzinho Rozenstruik didn’t have a reputation as a last-second finisher before UFC Vegas 28, he might have earned that standing with his stoppage win over Augusto Sakai.

Rozenstruik, who finished Alistair Overeem at 4:56 of Rd. 5 of their 2019 scrap, wrapped his main event matchup opposite Augusto Sakai at 4:59 of the first stanza on Saturday.

There was not much aggression in the early going of the heavyweight contest. For most of the first round, Rozenstruik controlled the center of the octagon while Sakai circled on the outside unimpeded.

As the round wound down, Rozenstruik pressured Sakai and backed him to the fence while still allowing him to circle to the outside. With Sakai moving, Rozenstruik caught him with a left and followed that with a hard right behind the ear. The right sent Sakai to the mat, where Rozenstruik finished things up. The official time of the finish was 4:59 of the first round.

With the finish, Rozenstruik got back in the win column following a decision loss to Ciryl Gane in February. Rozenstruik is now 6-2 in the UFC with six knockout wins. The loss put Sakai on a two-fight skid, which comes after he opened his UFC career on a 5-0 run.

Here are the winners and losers from UFC Vegas 28, which took place at UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The entire card streamed on ESPN+.

Winners:

Jairzinho Rozenstruik: If the heavyweight division was on the fence about Jairzinho Rozenstruik before UFC Vegas 28 they should no longer have any illusions about his power. Rozenstruik shut down Augusto Sakai with one second left in the first stanza and that knockout win came courtesy of a nasty right hand that landed behind Sakai’s ear. Rozenstruik is now 12-2 in his career. 11 of those victories have come via knockout.

Rozenstruik might not be on the shortlist for a title shot thanks to his losses to Francis Ngannou and Ciryl Gane, but if he keeps starching opponents, he won’t be too far away from a shot at UFC gold. Rozenstruik was ranked No. 6 before his win over Sakai.

Marcin Tybura: Marcin Tybura looked like he was on his way to a first-round stoppage loss against Walt Harris, but his chin held up after taking the best Harris could offer and then took advantage of a Harris mistake to put the fight to the ground. Harris had nothing to offer Tybura on the mat and the referee had no choice but to wave off the bout after Harris took too many undefended shots to the head.

Tybura is on an impressive run. He was 1-4 between November 2017 and September 2019, but Tybura has not lost since then and he is now on a five-fight winning streak.

Santiago Ponzinibbio vs. Miguel Baeza: Now this was a fight. Santiago Ponzinibbio looked as if he was on his way out of this one by the end of the first round. Miguel Baeza used a mix of striking techniques and targets throughout the first five minutes, with Ponzinibbio taking a lot of damage to his leg. The tide shifted at the start of the second stanza when Ponzinibbio stepped on the gas. Ponzinibbio dug deep and fought behind an effective jab for the final 10 minutes of the fight. While he did not have the technical skills of his opponent, Ponzinibbio had that extra gear that Baeza did not. Ponzinibbio was incredibly impressive in fighting back to get the win in this important welterweight scrap. The loss was the first of Baeza’s career.

Gregory Rodrigues: To put it bluntly, Gregory Rodrigues was better in the striking department than his opponent, Dusko Todorovic. Rodrigues was faster, more effective and more powerful than Todorovic, and that carried him to victory.

Montana De La Rosa: Montana De La Rosa ended a two-fight winless skid in style. De La Rosa ate some strikes from Ariane Lipski, but her wrestling and ground strikes carried the day as she overwhelmed Lipski on the mat. Her finishing flurry from full mount was merciless.

Muslim Salikhov: Muslim Salikhov scored his fifth straight win with a unanimous decision over Francisco Trinaldo on Saturday. In fact, Salikhov’s only loss since 2012 came in 2017 when he lost his UFC debut to Alex Garcia. Salikhov showed solid striking throughout the fight, mixing up techniques and targets. Salikhov sustained an eye poke in the third stanza that took some wind out of his sails, but he still had a noteworthy performance. It would be interesting to see Salikhov get the matchup he asked for opposite Li Jingliang.

Kamuela Kirk: Kamuela Kirk made his UFC debut against Makwan Amirkhani and he got the win. Amirkhani had a decent first round, but Kirk reset in his corner before the start of the second stanza and that adjustment worked out well. He showed a nice change in his striking, going to the body enough to get Amirkhani guessing. He also showed he is very capable off of his back. This was an excellent first UFC effort for Kirk and a win that should mean something to the matchmakers.

Manon Fiorot: It needs to be said that the fight between Manon Fiorot and Tabatha Ricci took place at flyweight and Ricci, who is a strawweight, took this fight on short notice. Fiorot was — by far — the largest favorite on the card.

With that out of the way, Fiorot dominated this fight from start to finish. She was faster, stronger, and had better cardio than Ricci. Fiorot controlled the cage, kept Ricci backing up and never allowed her to circle out.

Fiorot put on a master class in striking, but, again, it was a short-notice bout against a lighter opponent.

Sean Woodson: Sean Woodson had a six-inch reach advantage against Youssef Zalal, but he found little time to use that edge as Zalal did his best to keep the fight in close and work against the cage. Despite not working his striking edge at distance, Woodson did enough to get the approval of the judges.

Claudio Puelles: Claudio Puelles was a better grappler than his opponent Jordan Leavitt in the opening bout of the card. He did a good job of securing position and keeping Leavitt on the mat. This was not the most exciting bout, but Puelles, who is on a three-fight winning streak, did a solid job with his ground game.

Losers:

Augusto Sakai: Augusto Sakai had a chance to move up the UFC heavyweight rankings on Saturday when he faced Jairzinho Rozenstruik in the main event of UFC Vegas 28. That did not happen. Instead, Sakai landed three significant strikes before Rozenstruik finished him with one second left in the first stanza. The loss was the second straight defeat for Sakai. The performance was a disappointing one for a fighter who was noted for his offensive output before the event.

Walt Harris: Walt Harris started fast and hurt Marcin Tybura with his strikes and he looked like he was on his way to a win, but a kick directed at Tybura’s midsection turned the fight in favor of his opponent. That mistake put the fight on the mat, where Tybura finished things with strikes. Harris is now on a three-fight losing skid with three TKO setbacks. Harris might need a step down in competition to regain his confidence and work on raising his wrestling skills.

Dusko Todorovic: Dusko Todorovic did okay when he threw combinations against Gregory Rodrigues, but he did not do that enough. Todorovic has now lost two in a row after scoring a win in his UFC debut.

Ariane Lipski: Ariane Lipski’s striking was fast and effective in her matchup against Montana De La Rosa, but it was her lack of takedown defense and grappling skills that cost her this fight as De La Rosa dominated her on the mat.

Tanner Boser: If the UFC wanted to see if Taner Boser had a lack of takedown defense and skills off his back, he proved the answer to both questions on Saturday. Boser did little to get out from under Ilir Latifi after Latifi’s takedowns on Saturday. Boser, who has turned into a bit of a fan favorite, knows what he needs to work on.

Francisco Trinaldo: For someone who was fighting for the first time in nearly and at a higher weight division, Francisco Trinaldo looked pretty good in a losing effort against Muslim Salikhov. I think he handled himself well enough to stay at 170 pounds.

Makwan Amirkhani: Before this fight Makwan Amirkhani said he wasn’t comfortable during his UFC tenure until this event. Amirkhani did not do well against UFC newcomer Kamuela Kirk. With the decision loss to Kirk, it could be the end of the UFC road for Mr. Finland. He is now 1-3 in his past four.

Alan Patrick: Alan Patrick is a reckless and aggressive striker. I guess that can payoff if you catch someone slipping. That did not happen against Mason Jones. Jones stayed calm and when he found openings, he used them to his advantage to score big against Patrick. Patrick seemed pretty gassed when the referee paused the fight after Jones poked Patrick in the eye. The fight ended in a no contest shortly after that, when Patrick could not continue.

Tabatha Ricci: Tabitha Ricci got an opportunity to get a UFC fight when she accepted a short notice matchup against Manon Fiorot. It did not go well for her at all. She fought in a higher weight division and got knocked out. Now that Ricci has her foot in the door, she needs to forget about this setback and concentrate on what she can do at 115 pounds. Hopefully the UFC gives her that chance.

Youssef Zalal: Youssef Zalal did a decent job from preventing Sean Woodson from landing his striking. The problem Zalal had was that he did not do enough against the cage. He tried and failed on five of six takedowns and that might have kept him from winning the fight

Jordan Leavitt: There was a lot of talk during this fight about how Leavitt sets the pace in his fights. If Leavitt did one thing in his scrap against Claudio Puelles it was to show a lack of urgency. Leavitt accepted position on the ground far too often in this lightweight scrap. Leavitt’s performance was a letdown following his UFC debut, which saw him score a 22-second knockout over Matt Wiman.

UFC Commentators: Tonight was another example of the commentators giving the viewers an incorrect interpretation of how to score an MMA fight. During the Sean Woodson vs. Youssef Zalal bout, the commentators discussed how the judges would score the takedown defense of Zalal who thwarted 15 of his opponent’s takedown attempts. The problem with that is defense is not a scoring criteria in MMA, which is noted in the United Rules of MMA under the instructions for scoring a 10-8 round.

“MMA is an offensive based sport. No scoring is given for defensive maneuvers. Using smart, tactically sound defensive maneuvers allows the fighter to stay in the fight and to be competitive.”

Later on the card, Cruz puzzled how the judges would consider “octagon control” in a fight where Cruz said one fighter dominated the striking. Again, that was an error on Cruz’s part.

According to the scoring rules, the first criteria judges consider is effective striking/grappling. If one fighter has an advantage there, there is no reason to consider control because that criteria comes after “effective aggressiveness” in scoring.

If the UFC wants to end confusion of the scoring criteria in MMA it needs to make sure its commentators understand that criteria and report it in an accurate and effective manner.

Neither:

Roman Dolidze: Roman Dolidze was able to grind out a win against Laureano Staropoli, but if UFC commentator Michael Bisping was any indication, Dolidze did not pick up any fans in the process. Bisping sounded frustrated that Dolidze seemed content to hold Staropoli against the fence, while his partner, Dominick Cruz, said it was up to Staropoli to break free and move the fight to striking distance.

Ilir Latifi: Ilir Latifi exposed some deficiencies in the game of Tanner Boser on Saturday, but he did so by taking his opponent to the ground and holding him there. Latifi got the win after landing a total of 10 significant strikes.

Mason Jones: Stayed calm in the face of Alan Patrick’s all-action striking style. That proved to be the correct defense because Patrick could not keep up the pace and that allowed Jones to touch him up with his striking and nearly finish the fight in the first stanza. Jones poked Patrick in the eye in the second and with his opponent unable to continue, the fight was ruled a no contest.

Jones looked excellent until the foul. He’s only 26 and was 10-0 before he lost his UFC debut in January. Jones looks like he has all the skills to move up the rankings. He’s a fighter fans need to keep an eye on.

Jones lands here because he looked well on his way to a dominant win.