Jairzinho Rozenstruik broke into the UFC heavyweight scene with a 29-second TKO of Andrei Arlovski on Nov. 2, and now he'll try to add Alistair Overeem to his list of slain opponents.
The 31-year-old will look to close out an impressive debut year in the UFC with another win. He made his debut in February with a second-round TKO of Junior Albini and can go 4-0 with a win over The Reem.
It's a heavyweight collision that will have serious ramifications in the rankings. Rozenstruik has become the hottest commodity in the division, and Overeem is among the most crafty veterans in a division that is run by them.
The ESPN card also features another heavyweight bout with recognizable names. Ben Rothwell and Stefan Struve will look to gain some momentum against one another in the lead-up to the co-main event.
The penultimate fight of the evening features two top-10 fighters in the women's strawweight division. Former Dana White Contender Series combatant will Marina Rodriguez will take on Cynthia Calvillo in an intriguing encounter.
Main Card (9 PM ET, ESPN)
- Alistair Overeem (-110; bet $110 to win $100) vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik (-120)
- Marina Rodriguez (-130) vs. Cynthia Calvillo (+100)
- Stefan Struve (+110) vs. Ben Rothwell (-140)
- Aspen Ladd (-160) vs. Yana Kunitskaya (+130)
- Cody Stamann (+160) vs. Song Yadong (-190)
Preliminary Card (7 PM ET, ESPN)
- Ricky Simon (+110) vs. Rob Font (-140)
- Thiago Alves (+200) vs. Tim Means (-250)
- Billy Quarantillo (+135) vs. Chris Fishgold (-165)
- Bryce Mitchell (-115) vs. Matt Sayles (-115)
Preliminary Card (5:30 PM ET, ESPN+)
- Joseph Solecki (-320) vs. Matt Wiman (+250)
- Virna Jandiroba (-240) vs. Livinha Souza (+190)
- Makhmud Muradov (-450) vs. Trevor Smith (+325)
Odds via Caesars.
Rozenstruik Excited to Be Facing Overeem This Early in Career
Rozenstruik has seen a meteoric rise in the UFC, but he isn't done yet. The Surinamese fighter wants to beat Overeem in convincing fashion and waste no time in moving on to even bigger and better clashes.
He told Danny Segura of MMA Junkie:
"I hope a win over Alistair Overeem will bring me to the top 10, maybe top five. With this fight, I'm already happy, so where I land on the rankings with this fight is just going to be a surprise. I'm already happy with this matchup, so that's a surprise for me. I come from all the way down, and I got myself up this fast, so whatever comes next will be just extra for me."
An astronomic rise like this isn't unprecedented in the sport. Especially in the heavyweight division where power reigns supreme and it isn't shocking to string together some knockout wins. However, Rozenstruik's quickly-built resume can't be balked at.
His last two bouts have taken a combined 38 seconds, with Allen Crowder surviving just nine seconds and Arlvoski making it to the 29-second mark. Those kind of performances put him on par with Francis Ngannou's rise in the heavyweight division.
Part of Ngannou's rise to UFC stardom was a bout with Overeem. The Predator nearly knocked off The Reem's head with a vicious uppercut and one of the most brutal knockouts in recent memory.
Other knockout artists have been humbled by Overeem, though. The Dutch kickboxer holds wins over Junior dos Santos, Roy Nelson and Mark Hunt.
The 39-year-old's precision accuracy, patience and cerebral ability to figure out his opponent's strengths and weaknesses in the striking department make him a tough challenge for anyone.
As long as Overeem can avoid the early onslaught, we could get a really good look at what Rozenstruik can do other than hit really hard.
Prediction: Overeem via fourth-round TKO
Rodriguez Just Wanting to Show Improvement Against Calvillo
Marina Rodriguez has done a lot to earn buzz in the women's strawweight division, but that isn't what she cares about. The humble muay thai fighter has back-to-back wins over Tecia Torres and Jessica Aguilar after a draw against Randa Markos in her promotional debut.
That's an impressive start to her UFC career, but you wouldn't know it by hearing her talk.
There's not much out there about dreams of holding the UFC title or calling out any specific people on the roster. Instead, you hear the 32-year-old talk about the improvements she is eager to show and the work she is putting into her craft.
"The impact on the division will come, we know it, but we are in no rush to get there," Rodriguez said of the work she and her team have put in, per E. Spencer Kyte of UFC.com. "We are still working hard to make improvements and slowly you will see the evolution in my game and performances, and with that, the results and the recognition will come."
Claudia Gadelha was originally slotted for this matchup against Cynthia Calvillo, but Rodriguez was thrust into the spot when the Brazilian was forced to pull out due to injury.
By name recognition it's a step down for Calvillo, but this is a dangerous fight for her as well. She hasn't really been tested against the elites in the division, with her latest wins coming against Cortney Casey and Poliana Botelho.
While Gadelha's wrestling would have been the focus for her and her training for this bout, Rodriguez's striking is what she will have to worry about now. She'll likely see the best striker she's seen to this point in her career, and the two should put on a good show as the co-main event.
Prediction: Rodriguez via decision