UFC 249: Ngannou vs. Rozenstruik – Betting Preview

By Michael O’Shea

When the UFC announced that fights were going to be held behind closed doors, this fight came straight into my mind. Two huge heavyweight contenders throwing bombs in relevant silence at the UFC Apex where they were originally scheduled to fight.

The thought of two 230+ pound heavyweights throwing heat got me excited. Like, imagine hearing Ngannou chin Overeem with no crowd or the shot that Rozenstruik hit Arlovski with. I always felt it would add an extra element to what is already intriguing clash

My immediate thoughts on this bout are that it’s a step too far too soon for Jairzinho Rozenstruik (10-0). He’s had an impressive rise through the ranks, similar to Francis Ngannou’s (14-3), but my initial thoughts are that this is where it stops.

Ngannou is a mountain of a man — famed for his knock out of Overeem and his placid performances against Stipe Miocic and Derrick Lewis. The Stipe fight is one that I’m keen to reference, while not offering any excuse for him, it’s now known that he was partying in the lead up to that fight. It’s possible that over confidence led to him to think that he had nothing to do bar turn up and inevitably TKO Stipe. Obviously, it did not turn out as easy as he expected.

The Lewis fight can be excused too as he proved to be gun shy in the wake of the Stipe fight. The whole fight was awful and I’m not too keen to resist. Ngannou’s recent progress though looks good. Curtis Blaydes got slept inside a minute. Cain Velasquez received similar treatment inside 30 seconds. Junior Dos Santos sent to sleep after 70 seconds. Ngannou is back. Focused.

The former title challenger is training hard and it is easy to see on his instagram that he looks in the shape of his life and surely a win away from another shot at the belt.

Rozenstruik has been a revelation during his current UFC run. Since UFC Fortaleza in February 2019, he has squashed all the opposition in his way.

Despite some early pressure early in the Junior Albini fight, in which he got taken down and out struck, he showed his kick boxing credentials with some quick hands and a head kick to finish “The Baby.”

Allen Crowder gave us little insight into Rozenstruik as he fell victim to a jab after 10 seconds. Arlovski took a leg kick and a neat left hand to see him finished after 26 seconds.

He pulled a victory out of nothing in his TKO victory against Overeem but I think he felt the sting in the step up in competition. Overeem played the outside game very well against Rozenstruik and was able to land his shots while not being countered for most of the fight. Rozenstruik showed good heart though to win the fourth when, in my opinion, he was three rounds down and then showed good fight IQ and cardio to step up and eventually get the TKO with seconds remaining.

My honest assessment here is that Ngannou is possibly a step or two too much for Rozenstruik right now. He’s had a good rise to stardom but I can’t help but think it ends here.

The holes in Rozenstruik’s game were visible in the Overeem fight and someone with Ngannou’s power could cause him a lot of trouble. Ngannou has that power in abundance and I think he’s seriously improving. Since that shocking Lewis performance, he’s been a regular at the PI in Las Vegas. The videos of him hitting the bag look like he’s got sharper and if possible, even bigger than he was before. I understand that it’s heavyweight and anything can happen when two big boys start to throw but I think Ngannou makes a statement here and catches Rozenstruik early. I’ll take “The Predator” with both the money line and by TKO to beat Rozenstruik.

Selection: Francis Ngannou ML @ -278 or $1.36 or 4/11

Ngannou TKO odds not available at time of writing. 


Sports journalist based in CA, USA. Twitter: @ArionArmeniakos

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