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7 May, 2020 15:20

UFC 249: Francis Ngannou and Jairzinho Rozenstruik collide in battle of big-hitting heavyweights

UFC 249: Francis Ngannou and Jairzinho Rozenstruik collide in battle of big-hitting heavyweights

Saturday night's UFC 249 matchup between two of the heavyweight division's most concussive strikers in Francis Ngannou and Jairzinho Rozenstruik has the potential to be a brief but incredibly violent affair.

A quick glance at the recent records of both men reveals one clear statistic: neither fighter wants to spend any longer in the Octagon than absolutely necessary.

Cameroonian destroyer Ngannou has spent a cumulative total of just over two minutes inside a UFC cage across his last three bouts. His last two fights were complete destructions of former champions Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos. Before those, just 45-seconds were needed to dispatch top contender Curtis Blaydes. 

Perhaps the only other fighter on the UFC roster capable of a similar level of violence inside the cage is the man who will stand opposite him in Florida this weekend. Jairzinho Rozenstruik's career ledger reads like a mirror image of Ngannou's. 

His UFC tenure shows a 9-second knockout win against Allen Crowder. Andrei Arlovski, another ex-UFC champion lasted for 29-seconds. Experienced veteran Alistair Overeem looked to have bucked this trend in Rozenstruik's last fight, before the Dutchman was unceremoniously finished against the cage with just four seconds remaining in the final frame of their fight last December.

So, with two combatants as thunder-fisted as Ngannou and Rozenstruik, it stands to reason that the first man to land a telling strike on Saturday night could well emerge as the victor. 

Ngannou comes into the fight having successfully rehabilitated a reputation which took a significant hit in successive bouts. The first, in a world title shot with Stipe Miocic two years ago, came as a strangely gun-shy Ngannou was suffocated by Miocic's pressure game through five rounds.

Ngannou's next assignment against heavyweight slugger Derrick Lewis continued this trend, as Ngannou's increasingly procrastinate fighting style stifled what it was that had made him successful in the first place: a willingness to trade strikes because he knows he hits harder.

Whether or not that maxim rings true this weekend against Rozenstruik remains to be seen - but the refocussed Ngannou has admitted that he felt lost under the pressure of a stratospheric rise which culminated in the undercooked fighter being thrust into a world title bout before his time. 

Ngannou's gaze is very much back on the world title and the man that holds it, Miocic, but to earn his place among the elite once more he must fight with an offensive mindset against the ever-dangerous Rozenstruik - who will have strikingly similar intentions. 

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Of the two heavyweight giants, Ngannou seems to have the more refined striking technique and will be considered as a favorite against the undefeated Rozenstruik. 

In a fight with as fine margins as this one, and with those 4oz gloves the only buffer between fist and face, it will likely come down to whoever hits hardest and hits first. 

Both fighters think that they are ideally-equipped to do so, and this is what makes the fight such a fascinating clash for fight fans. 

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