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UFC Fight Night: Rozenstruik v Almeida Predictions

Grappling ace Jailton Almeida aims to break into the heavyweight top 10 at the expense of striking expert Jairzinho Rozenstruik in the main event of UFC Charlotte on Saturday night.

Grappling ace Jailton Almeida aims to break into the heavyweight top 10 at the expense of striking expert Jairzinho Rozenstruik in the main event of UFC Charlotte on Saturday night, writes Quintin van Jaarsveld. 

The co-headliner at the Spectrum Center will see elite light heavyweight finishers Anthony Smith and Johnny Walker go to war. A second fight at 205 pounds pits Carlos Ulberg against Ihor Potieria.

The spotlight also shines on the welterweight division where Ian Garry will put his undefeated record on the line against Daniel Rodriguez and Tim Means takes on Alex Morono.

MAIN CARD (from 9 PM Saturday SA time): 

SJairzinho Rozenstruik (4.90) v Jailton Almeida (1.20) (Heavyweight)

The high-level, heavy-duty headliner is a colossal clash of styles.

Rozenstruik (13-4) has a lethal legacy as a champion kickboxer before transitioning to mixed martial arts. “Bigi Boy” held a remarkable record of 76-8 with 64 knockouts in the sport and has proved every bit as dangerous of a striking savant in MMA with 12 of his 13 wins coming by KO. 

His latest victim was Chris Daukaus, who he stopped in just 23 seconds to record his ninth first-round finish. Ranked ninth, Rozenstruik is deceptively athletic and not just a technical striker, but a wily one. 

Always thinking, the Suriname savage constantly sets traps for his opponents to fall into, so everything he does is deliberate, which will serve him well in this stylistic match-up. 

As devastating as Rozenstruik is, Almeida (18-2) is an ever greater predator. The Brazilian boasts a 100% finish rate, with 11 of his wins coming by submission and seven by knockout. 

“Malhadinho” has run roughshod in the UFC, winning all four of his fights inside two rounds since arriving at the start of last year to rocket up to 12th in the rankings and earn this, his maiden main event. 

A powerful wrestler and jiu-jitsu expert, he can both steamroll or dissect opponents with his world-class grappling and enters the bout as one of the best emerging talents in the heavyweight division. 

A key advantage Rozenstruik holds is elite-level experience. He’s knocked out three former champions in Andrei Arlovski, Alistair Overeem and Junior dos Santos, faced off with ex-title holders Francis Ngannou and Cyril Gane and has headlined four previous cards. Add his one-punch knockout power and he’s a very juicy underdog. 

Having said that, he was controlled by American wrestler Curtis Blaydes, giving up a couple of takedowns and plenty of control time to drop a decision back in a similar styles clash in 2021. Almeida, with his grappling prowess, should be able to take the kickboxing standout down and find the finish to claim his place in the top 10.

Prediction: Almeida by submission.

Best Bet: Almeida by submission at 1.86.

Alternative Bet: Almeida by KO/TKO/DQ at 2.80.

Anthony Smith (1.90) v Johnny Walker (1.90) (Light Heavyweight)

The co-headlining tilt of top 10 205-pounders is a pick ‘em and will be wickedly fun to watch for however long it lasts.  

With over 50 fights under his belt, fifth-ranked Smith (36-17) is one of the most experienced fighters in the UFC and has fought the who’s who at light heavyweight. The 34-year-old holds knockout wins over former champions Rashad Evans and Mauricio Rua and unsuccessfully challenged the great Jon Jones for the title back in 2019. 

A skilled, equal-opportunity ass kicker, “Lionheart” boasts 19 wins by knockout and 14 by submission. He’s an intelligent and aggressive fighter with no glaring weaknesses and, as his nickname suggests, he’s as tough as they come. He’s looking to bounce back from a loss to Magomed Ankalaev.

Seventh-ranked Walker (20-7) is a tall and rangy striking specialist. All but one of his wins are by stoppage, including 16 knockouts. Unpredictable and ultra-explosive, he’s on a two-fight win streak and most recently stopped Paul Craig with his heavy hands in January. 

At 6’6″, the Brazilian’s two inches taller than Smith and will have a six-inch reach advantage. Momentum’s on his side, but Smith has more ways to win and the veteran savviness to safely close the distance. In mixing things up, he’ll get the W.

Prediction: Smith by stoppage.

Best Bet: Smith at 1.90.

Alternative Bet: Smith by KO/TKO/Submission/DQ at 2.40.

Daniel Rodriguez (3.40) v Ian Garry (1.35) (Welterweight)

Unbeaten Garry has lived up to his moniker “The Future” since arriving on the UFC scene in 2021, winning four on the trot to move his perfect record up to 11-0 (six knockouts and one submission) and put the welterweight division on notice. 

The most impressive thing about the Irish ace is his lightning-quick hand speed, which many compare to that of a young Conor McGregor. Like “The Notorious”, he’s also full of self-belief and in his element under the bright lights. 

Rodriguez (17-3 with eight knockouts and four submissions) is the ideal veteran test to see where the rising star measures up at this stage of his career. 

“D-Rod” is a hard-hitting southpaw who throws with bad intentions. He’s won seven of his nine fights inside the Octagon and has beaten the likes of Mike Perry and former interim title challenger Kevin Lee but came up short last time out against Neil Magny, who caught him in a submission.

Rodriguez is a rather plodding stand-up fighter who loads up and plants his feet. Garry, who at 25 is the younger man by 11 years, will have a distinct speed advantage that’ll see him out-strike Rodriguez. The latter, thanks to his granite chin, has never been knocked out, so Garry will have to be satisfied with a decision victory.

Prediction: Garry by decision.

Best Bet: Garry by decision at 2.30.

Alternative Bet: Fight to go the distance at 1.74.

Carlos Ulberg (1.24) v Ihor Potieria (4.30) (Light Heavyweight)

Not one who works by the hour so to speak, Ulberg is coming off back-to-back first-round knockout victories to make it three wins in a row. As the faster, more explosive striker, the New Zealander’s poised to continue in that violent vein. 

Potieria (19-3) has split his first two UFC appearances. After being knocked out by Nicolae Negumereanu, whom Ulberg dispatched in his last fight, “Duellist” bounced back with a win over the legendary Shogun Rua, his ninth career knockout. 

Ulberg has shown more upside and with his aforementioned advantages, “Black Jag” should bag another KO.

Prediction: Ulberg by knockout.

Best Bet: Ulberg by KO/TKO/DQ (TBA).

Tim Means (2.85) Alex Morono (1.46) (Welterweight)

Battle-hardened veterans open the main card in what has all the makings to be the Fight of the Night. 

Always entertaining, Means (32-14-1 with 19 knockouts and five submissions) loves to go toe-to-toe and is adept at using his range to piece up an opponent. “The Dirty Bird” will have a three-inch reach advantage this time around and is hoping to stop a two-fight skid. 

Morono (22-8 with six knockouts and six submissions) is a more compact gamer with good combinations and solid power. “The Great White”, who holds a win over Hall of Famer Donald Cerrone, also boasts a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, so he’s slick on the ground as well. 

Morono has a lot more left in the tank than 39-year-old Means and should win a fun fight on the judges’ scorecards.  

Prediction: Morono by decision.

Best Bet: Morono by decision.

Alternative Bet: Morono by KO/TKO/DQ. 

Quintin Van Jaarsveld is a former MDDA-Sanlam SA Local Sports Journalist of the Year and a former three-time Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal Sports Journalist of the Year. Formerly the sports editor and Outstanding Journalist of the Year award winner at The Fever Media Group, deputy editor at eHowzit, editor at and senior staff writer at, he boasts over 15 years’ experience and is currently a freelance sports writer.

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