Those who see true one-punch knockout power as the great equalizer in combat sports have yet another example at which to point: Jairzinho Rozenstruik.
The unbeaten Surinamese kickboxer on Saturday continued his climb on the Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight ladder, as he wiped out Alistair Overeem with a buzzer-beating right hook in the fifth round of their UFC on ESPN 7 main event at Capitol One Arena in Washington, D.C. His upper lip split by the concussive impact of the punch, Overeem bowed out 4:56 into Round 5 in a fight where he enjoyed a commanding lead on the scorecards.
Rozenstruik did not offer much in terms of meaningful offense for four-plus rounds, as he seemed unwilling to pull the trigger against the takedown- and clinch-minded Dutchman. Overeem executed takedowns in the first and third rounds, bottled up “Bigi Boy” on the mat and leaned on efficiency in the standup exchanges. As Round 5 drew to a close, Rozenstruik backed up the former Strikeforce champion with a shovel uppercut and sent the sweeping, fight-ending hook crashing into his face. The blow floored Overeem and had his handlers searching for the nearest plastic surgeon.
In the aftermath of UFC on ESPN 7 “Rozenstruik vs. Overeem,” here are five matches that ought to be made:
Jairzinho Rozenstruik vs. Curtis Blaydes-Junior dos Santos winner: The jury remains out on whether or not Rozenstruik can develop into a legitimate title contender, as his encounter with Overeem exposed some glaring flaws in his game. However, in a division as shallow as heavyweight, exciting undefeated fighters tend to move quickly. Rozenstruik, 31, has finished all four of his opponents since joining the UFC roster in February, responding well to his increasing degree of difficulty and appears to have no interest in lateral moves. Need proof? He called out the menacing Francis Ngannou after he was done with Overeem. Blaydes and dos Santos will collide in the UFC Fight Night 166 headliner on Jan. 25 in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Aspen Ladd vs. Holly Holm-Raquel Pennington winner: Ladd showed no residual effects from her 16-second stoppage loss to Germaine de Randamie in July, as she disposed of Yana Kunitskaya with punches in the third round of their women’s bantamweight feature. Kunitskaya succumbed to blows 33 seconds into Round 3. Ladd struggled to find footing through the first 10 minutes, but her coaches decided to hit the turbo button with a pep talk in between the second and third rounds. It paid immediate dividends: After one left hook and an avalanche of follow-up punches, the fight was over. Holm and Pennington are ticketed for a rematch at UFC 246 on Jan. 18.
Rob Font vs. Cory Sandhagen: Though he had to withstand a few hair-raising standup exchanges with Ricky Simon, Font walked away from their bantamweight showcase with a unanimous decision. Scores were 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27. Font snapped back Simon’s head repeatedly with a punishing jab, mixed in uppercuts along the way and complimented those efforts with a steady stream of straight right hands. The former CES MMA champion has won five of his last seven bouts, affirming his position as a person of interest at 135 pounds. Sandhagen was scheduled to face Frankie Edgar in January but found himself without a dance partner when “The Answer” instead agreed to meet Chan Sung Jung as a short-notice replacement for the injured Brian Ortega in the UFC Fight Night 165 main event on Dec. 21.
Tim Means vs. James Krause: The venerable Means kept his name in a place of prominence, as the dependable action hero submitted Thiago Alves in the featured welterweight prelim. A former multi-division King of the Cage champion, “The Dirty Bird” sat down Alves with a straight left in close quarters, pounced with follow-up punches and cinched the guillotine while the Brazilian was in a seated position, prompting the tapout 2:38 into Round 1. In doing so, Means became the first man since Martin Kampann in March 2012 to submit the American Top Team mainstay. Krause last competed at UFC Fight Night 164 on Nov. 16, when he cut down Sergio Moraes with third-round punches and extended his current winning streak to six fights.
Bryce Mitchell vs. Charles Rosa: Mitchell not only kept his perfect professional record intact but made history in the process. The 25-year-old Arkansas native executed the second successful twister in UFC history, as he submitted Matt Sayles with the maneuver 4:20 into the first round of their undercard pairing at 145 pounds. The aforementioned Jung authored the first such submission in 2011, when he put away Leonard Garcia at UFC Fight Night 24. Mitchell has won all 12 of his bouts as a pro, nine of them by submission. Rosa last appeared at UFC on ESPN 6 in October, when he submitted Manny Bermudez with a first-round armbar.