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UFC Vegas 87 Main Event: Rozenstruik vs. Gaziev

UFC Vegas 87 Main Event: Rozenstruik vs. Gaziev

UFC VEGAS 87 MAIN EVENT: ROZENSTRUIK VS. GAZIEV – Heavyweight main events in the Apex have become normal, but it is not something the general fan has been intrigued by. They either end quickly and never needed main event rounds in the first place or if they do hit the fourth and fifth round, it becomes a slow, sloppy grind that is not entertaining. Regardless, here we are again.

Jairzinho Rozenstruik, entering his fourth Apex main event, looks to rebound from his May defeat to hot prospect, Jailton Almeida.

Shamil Gaziev aims to continue his undefeated run while picking up the second win of his UFC career.

Will the power punching of Rozenstruik prove too much? Or will the power grappling of Gaziev ruin Rozenstruik’s plans of bucking his losing trend? Read on to see how this striker vs grappler matchup shakes out.

Hey, while you’re at it, click here to check out our Godzilla Wins Daily Staff Picks!


Jairzinho Rozenstruik

Making his UFC debut back in early 2019, I don’t think many believed Rozenstruik would be a fighter that would be in the main event of six UFC events in the ensuing four years. He came in as an undefeated 6-0 prospect from the kickboxing world. Knocking out his first four UFC opponents, he was propped up to fight Francis Ngannou in the UFC’s return from Covid.

Including that fight, he has put together a 3-5 run but still finds himself near the top of the bill due to his ability to put his opponent’s lights out.

Rozenstruik mainly relies on his power to get his wins. With only one decision in his 13 wins, it’s pretty evident he prefers to bang it out on the feet until his opponent falls. That has put a wrench in his plans to crack into title contention due to the well-roundedness of his opponents as he gets closer to the top.

Fighters are either disciplined enough to stay away from his knockout power or are strong enough to drag him to the mat and find a finish. At 35 years old, it’s tough to envision him being able to shore up that aspect of his game enough to be successful in securing a UFC heavyweight championship.

Shamil Gaziev

It took Gaziev half a round to secure his UFC contract through the Contender Series last season as he submitted his opponent. That made it 11-straight wins for Gaziev. Impressive, considering he turned pro in late 2020 and has smashed through all the opponents put against him.

He added a former UFC fighter to his win column on the regional scene when he knocked out Darko Stosic in the first round. Last time out, he overwhelmed Martin Buday for close to six minutes before the referee mercifully stopped the fight.

Gaziev normally showcases a wrestle-heavy approach from jump. He crashes into the pocket immediately with a level change and often gets his opponents to the mat. From there he does a great job of working to a dominant position to secure a choke or a ground and pound position to get the finish.

His size works very well in these instances because he is strong and smothering from that top position. I will credit the striking improvements he’s shown, coupled with his ability to pressure opponents and keep them on their back foot. I’m not ready to call him championship-material, but the next fight or two will shine more light on that.

The Pick

It’s always best to go with the grappler in striker vs grappler equations. Obviously, it is a little deeper than that, but Gaziev ticks all the boxes with his ability to get fights to the mat and his process. At heavyweight, the knockout potential is always a little more exaggerated than it actually is.

In 2023, only five of the 32 heavyweight underdogs were able to pull off the upset. Three of those five were considered to only have a knockout chance, although two of those three were against guys that were known to have durability issues. Gaziev seems like he has good enough durability to deal with a big shot, but the overarching truth here is that he has far more paths to victory and is dominant enough from that top position to keep this fight from going into deep waters.

I expect Gaziev to get this done early and with much more ease than his odds indicate.

Gaziev -155 

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