Fight Study (6/5/21)
The UFC heavyweights take center stage for the Main Event of Fight Night 189 when the division’s 9th ranked contender, Augusto Sakai, takes on the 6th ranked contender, Jairzinho Rozenstruik, from the UFC’s Apex facility on Saturday. This fight is narrowly handicapped with Rozenstruik being the slight favorite over Sakai. As the favorite, Rozenstruik will carry the higher salary on both platforms. He is priced at $8,200 on DraftKings and at $19 on Fanduel. Sakai is priced at $8,000 and $17 respectively. As the Main Event, this fight has been scheduled for 5 rounds of MMA action, however, as a -195 favorite to conclude inside the distance, this fight is not expected to go the full 25 minutes.
Sakai lost his last time out when Alistair Overeem defeated him by a fifth round TKO in September of 2020. That was his first loss in the UFC and his record in the promotion now stands at 4-1. He is 15-2-1 overall with 11 wins by KO/TKO and 4 wins by submission. Other than his loss to Overeem, Sakai had only lost once by split decision more than 4 years ago. He will give up an inch in both height and reach to Rozenstruik on Saturday. He has yet to face another fighter with the power of Rozenstruik and his defense will be tested in this matchup.
Rozenstruik is 11-2 overall with 10 wins by KO/TKO and 1 win by decision. He is 5-2 in the UFC with his only losses coming from Ciryl Gane and current heavyweight champ, Francis Ngannou. He has 7 first round finishes to his credit. Despite losing 2 of his last 3 fights, he is still one of the fiercest strikers in the UFC and is a danger to finish opponents at any moment. Rozenstruik defeated Sakai’s most recent opponent, Overeem, by fifth round KO in 2019, however, he was dominated for much of that fight before splitting open Overeem’s lip and getting the stoppage mere seconds before the final bell. His decision loss to Gane was only his second fight in his career to go the distance.
This fight does not figure to be a long one with 21 finishes by KO/TKO between these two. Rozenstruik is the more powerful fighter in this matchup, however, and his chances at getting a finish are better. He is currently +155 to get the finish on Saturday while Sakai is +240 to do so. It is important to note that the octagon at the UFC Apex is 5 feet smaller in diameter than the standard 30 foot octagon. This means these heavyweights will have less space to work with and the power and (slight) length advantage of Rozenstruik will be amplified. Sakai will need to keep his feet moving at all times in order to present a moving target for Rozenstruik. The smaller fighting surface will make this more challenging.
Given the narrowness of the odds in this fight, I must give Rozenstruik the bulk of my play here. He is only a bit more expensive on both platforms, but his ability to finish opponents with one punch (watch the last 5 seconds of the Overeem fight to verify) gives him the better scoring potential. In 150-max contests, I will be giving this fight heavy exposure and will give Sakai some lineups, but the bulk of my money will be with Rozenstruik. I like him to get the win by KO/TKO within the first two rounds. Sakai shouldn’t be overlooked, but his scoring potential is much less than that of Rozenstruik. At just above the average in salary on DraftKings, he is my top play on that platform.