3 next opponents for Jairzinho Rozenstruik

  • Jairzinho Rozenstruik defeated Shamil Gaziev on Saturday
  • Whats next for the heavyweight?
  • We give three potential next opponents for Jairzinho
May 13, 2023; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Jairzinho Rozenstruik (red gloves) walks to the
May 13, 2023; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Jairzinho Rozenstruik (red gloves) walks to the / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
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Jairzinho Rozenstruik (14-5) held his No. 12 heavyweight ranking by stopping the oncoming force of Shamil Gaziev (12-1) in the UFC Vegas 87 main event on March 2. Gaziev had a few good moments, but Rozenstruik was ultimately able to wear his foe down with the jab and pick up the TKO victory between rounds four and five.

Rozenstruik had a lot to prove after losing in three of his last four fights. Beating the highly touted Gaziev shows Rozenstruik is still a viable heavyweight contender.

Proving the doubters wrong and thus showing he can still contend at 35 years old is a big deal for Rozenstruik. Gaziev was a dangerous opponent with the ability to exploit Rozenstruik's weaknesses.

Rozenstruik revealed in his post-fight press conference that he was interested in returning over the summer saying, "When will I like to fight next, would be close to July or August." Let's examine his options and see which possible opponent makes the most sense as his next step.

1. Derrick Lewis

Derrick Lewis (27-12) is the UFC's No. 10 ranked heavyweight. The organization's all-time knockout king is known for exciting brawls and ridiculous power punching. He is also one of the few top heavyweights yet to share the Octagon with Rozenstruik.

This bout makes the most sense for both men for multiple reasons.

Both are primarily strikers who are quite evenly matched on the feet. Given Rozenstruik's kickboxing pedigree and Lewis's brawling capability, the two warriors are likely to bring the action.

They are also both heavyweight veterans hoping to prove they are still competitive in the division's ever-changing landscape. Most importantly, Rozenstruik mentioned Lewis as someone he'd be interested in fighting during his post-fight press conference saying, "There are a couple names I didn't face yet...Derrick (Lewis)...name it. They're all there but I never call someone out because I don't want to wait on their time."

From a practical standpoint, the fight certainly makes sense according to the rankings. Lewis is coming off a loss to Jailton Almeida and will likely not get an opportunity to fight anyone ranked higher than him without first getting a fresh win. Meanwhile, Rozenstruik has just defended his spot against a hyped prospect. This likely gives him leverage to fight up in the rankings rather than having to take someone lower-ranked or not ranked at all.