Card recap – UFC on ESPN: Overeem vs. Rozenstruik

FIGHT fans were in for some fun with the latest UFC on ESPN instalment, headlined by an exciting heavyweight main event between two esteemed kickboxers – one a veteran, and the other a rising star. It was Suriname’s Jairzinho Rozenstruik who came up clutch with a vicious last-minute knockout, shortly after a more controversial bout at the same weight ended via similar method. Elsewhere, there were two draws across the main card, while Aspen Ladd returned to the winners list and Bryce Mitchell recorded just the second ever twister submission victory in the UFC. The fight night was also dedicated to the Stuart Scott Memorial Cancer Research Fund.

NOTE: Round-by-round scores are our opinion, and not indicative of the actual scorecard.


FIGHT OF THE NIGHT: Rob Font vs. Ricky Simon
PERFORMANCE OF THE NIGHT: Bryce Mitchell, Makhmud Muradov


HEAVYWEIGHT | Jairzinho Rozenstruik [14] def. Alistair Overeem [6] | KO (Punch) 4:56 Rd 5

Down on all scorecards before a brutal fight-ending sequence, Rozenstruik showed why you should not blink during heavyweight bouts as he notched up the biggest win of his MMA career. Now 4-0 in the UFC, the Tuesday Night Contender Series alum has now picked off two former MMA world title holders, relying on his one-punch knockout power to do so this time around. While Rozenstruik called out Francis Ngannou for a fight which could produce fireworks, Overeem seems to have had his last tilt at the title and remains five short of 50 MMA wins.


Round 1 – 10-9 Overeem
After Rozenstruik opted against a glove-touch, Overeem came out looking focussed with his more measured approach, steering clear of Rozenstruik’s power while touching him with a couple of nice left hand strikes. With over three minutes on the clock, Overeem pounces and sticks a beautiful takedown from the clinch. They remain on the ground, Overeem on top in a sort of half-guard with Rozenstruik conserving energy from the bottom.

Round 2 – 10-9 Overeem (20-18)
Patient on the feet again from both men, but Overeem quickly gets Rozenstruik against the fence in the clinch. Referee Dan Miragliotta breaks it up after almost three minutes with only a few knees thrown among the jostle, with the fight continuing largely at range. Both men land a nice shot each – including another heavy left from Overeem – but look unfazed.

Round 3 – 10-9 Overeem (30-27)
Overeem’s corner ensure their man that Rozenstruik is gassing, but he comes out looking fresh and blocks a telegraphed double-leg entry to enact another clinch. A bit of back and forth on the feet follows and Overeem lands a big overhand left, following it up with another telegraphed level change. He manages to throw Rozenstruik to the ground again from against the cage, landing some nice ground-and-pound to finish.

Round 4 – 10-9 Rozenstruik (39-37)
Left hand continues to land for Overeem, but Rozenstruik looks to hit back with a nice barrage which pushes Overeem back against the cage. The Dutchman covers up as the two calmly disengage, with limited damage done. Rozenstruik gets his counter-strike game going, having a bit more success late-on in splitting Overeem’s guard, but he survives a couple of late flurries.

Round 5 –
Overeem’s coaches looking for him to set-up the takedown, touch and go. He looks to engage but nothing gives, meanwhile Rozenstruik looks more desperate for the big shot and backs Overeem up. The big shot comes, cue the stoppage.

Fight-ending sequence: A tired-looking Overeem backs up against the fence with 10 second left, prompting Rozenstruik to come at him with an accurate left, following with a massive overhand bomb to sit the Dutchman down. A walk off KO, madness with four seconds on the clock – shades of Lewis vs. Volkov.

CATCHWEIGHT (120.5 lbs) | Marina Rodriguez [9] drew w/ Cynthia Calvillo [10] | Majority Draw (29-28, 28-28, 28-28)


Round 1 – 10-9 Rodriguez
A bit of a feeling-out process with Rodriguez the one to come forward in her traditional Muay Thai style, landing some aggressive hooks as the longer fighter. It prompts a takedown from Calvillo, but Rodriguez works back to the feet and hits hard on the break with knees, elbows and kicks. Finishes with a big head kick and heavy knees, but Calvillo survives and scores another takedown.

Round 2 – 10-9 Rodriguez (20-18)
Calvillo looking to pop and move more on the feet, coming in quickly as Rodriguez loads up. Calvillo’s corner asking for a level change, but she can’t get past the clinch and Rodriguez continues to damage to the body moving forward. Some great Muay Thai on show, vicious knees and kicks.

Round 3 – 10-8 Calvillo (28-28)

Calvillo’s corner asking for single-leg takedowns but she lands a double, looking to move into mount. She can’t get through but lands some nice elbows up top before grabbing a kimura grip and landing some more elbows to the body. She works around to get a body lock on Rodriguez’s back, striking and looking for the rear-naked choke. Calvillo goes close to finishing the fight with more ground and pound as she rolls into mount, but Rodriguez does an outstanding job to survive and get back to the feet. Understandable 10-8 for Calvillo, levelling the scorecards.

We had it: 28-28, like two of the judges. Rodriguez the better fighter in Rounds 1 and 2, but was almost finished in the last. Could have gone either way on the final round 10-8 call, but Calvillo’s dominance on top nabs her a draw.

HEAVYWEIGHT | Ben Rothwell def. Stefan Struve | TKO (Punches) 4:47 Rd 2

An unfortunate loss for Struve, who goes down in his first fight back after a short-lived retirement. He looked the better of the two fighters with his length and kicking game working well, while Rothwell looked to move in quickly, engage in grappling and land uppercuts from the clinch. Such was the difference in range, a low blow almost ended the fight in Round 1 as Struve slipped away from a Rothwell body kick. The Skyscraper fought on, landing a glancing low blow of his own before an almost identical blow to the first incident put Struve down again. Worse for wear, Rothwell’s uppercuts spelled the end as a dejected Struve could only cover up and wait for the finish.

Fight-ending sequence: A checked leg kick hurts Struve as he limps backwards with 25 seconds left, Rothwell follows and moves in with big overhands, eventually landing repeated uppercuts with Struve backed up against the cage. He drops, Miragliotta steps in.

W. BANTAMWEIGHT | Aspen Ladd [5] def. Yana Kunitskaya [7] | TKO (Punches) 0:33 Rd 3

Ladd returns to the winners list and looked great with some savage ground work and help from a corner rev-up at the end of Round 2. After Kunitskaya clinched well early, Ladd took the fight to the ground and landed some nice ground-and-pound. Engaging again, Ladd gets sucked into the clinch but eventually lands a more conventional takedown after a double-leg entry. The final round was short and sweet, with Ladd rushing to land a huge left hand which drops her opponent, following up well to get the finish.

Fight-ending sequence: Ladd comes right in off the line and sits Kunitskaya down with a left hand, getting her angles on top and eventually getting the finish with repeated blows from the back.

BANTAMWEIGHT | Cody Stamann [9] drew w/ Song Yadong [13] | Majority Draw (29-27, 28-28, 28-28)

Song started off with some sharp combinations, touching Stamann without engaging long enough for the American to level-change. After inevitably being taken down in the first, Song was deducted a point for an illegal blow to the grounded Stamann as he controlled a guillotine choke, immediately broken up. To Stamann’s credit, he continued on but was arguably outdone in the next round, instead finishing well to take out the final round on all three judges’ scorecards.

We had it: 28-28, the same as two of the judges. Sal D’Amato gave Stamann the first round, but we think Song got the better of it despite being deducted a point – so, 9-9 there. Song backs up with the second and Stamman closes to win the third.

BANTAMWEIGHT | Rob Font [10] def. Ricky Simon | Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

Font, the more established striker of the two, quickly took up a more aggressive position on the feet, backing Simon up as he pushed the pace. That was until he pulled off a surprise double-leg to really set the tone and intensity. Simon hung tough through some heavy shots and troubled Font with a left hand of his own, eventually nabbing a takedown in an even first round. Better taking his time, Font lent on his striking and started to land big with better distance management. It was much of the same in the third, with Font pulling off the unanimous win.

We had it: 29-28, Simon winning the first round, but Font getting the better of two and three with some big shots and improved takedown defence. Simon couldn’t keep Font down, but got him there plenty.


WELTERWEIGHT | Tim Means def. Thiago Alves | Submission (Guillotine choke) 2:38 Rd 1

Fight-ending sequence: Means dropped Alves with a left hand and followed him down with ground-and-pound, eventually grabbing the guillotine as Alves covered up on his knees.

FEATHERWEIGHT | Billy Quarantillo def. Jacob Kilburn | Submission (Triangle choke) 3:18 Rd 2

Fight-ending sequence: Quarantillo went to work after an all-action round which he dominated, constantly pressuring for the submission. After transitioning from the back, he moved from an armbar to the eventual triangle to have Kilburn tap.

CATCHWEIGHT (148.5 lbs) | Bryce Mitchell def. Matt Sayles | Submission (Twister) 4:20 Rd 1

Fight-ending sequence: We know Mitchell can do some quirky things on the ground and his work to get a twister was just phenomenal. He had worked Sayles on the ground all round, and scooted to the back before getting to work on the twister.

LIGHTWEIGHT | Joe Solecki def. Matt Wiman | Unanimous Decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-27)

We had it: 30-26, pretty straight-forward one. Solecki came out firing in the first to, in our eyes, earn a 10-8, then easily getting the better of Rounds 2 and 3 to come out with the final score of 30-26.

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