Francis Ngannou is set to face Jairzinho Rozenstruik at Fight Night Columbus next month and he seemed to like his odds.
Francis Ngannou seems completely unfazed in a recent interview talking about his upcoming fight with Jairzinho Rozenstruik, despite the latter’s undefeated record in the UFC.
“No, I haven’t seen nothing to impress me,” Ngannou shared with MMA Junkie. “Regarding that fight against Overeem, I mean, he got beat up the entire fight and he got lucky at the end of the fight basically by the early stoppage. The referee, in my opinion was early and you know, he gave him the win but honestly his UFC career, nothing to impress. I haven’t seen nothing, but with that being said, it’s not to underestimate him because he was a kickboxer and he has some good hands so he knows the striking game. Now let’s find out what he knows about MMA.”
Ngannou is, of course, referencing the fact that Rozenstruik has a background in kickboxing rather than MMA outright. Many UFC fighters start in another fighting sport and, depending on how strategic the fighter is about it, that can work to their advantage or disadvantage in the ring. As a former kickboxer, Rozenstruik’s striking is definitely up there in terms of how he stacks up against other fighters. But that’s hardly the only skill worth talking about when he gets in the ring with Ngannou next month.
Ngannou has been on fire lately and definitely has a lot more momentum heading into the fight. Ngannou has dispatched his last three opponents — Curtis Blaydes, Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos — in a matter of minutes in each fight. Ngannou is a fighter who’s looking to make a quick break early and hopefully land a KO within the first few rounds. If he succeeds in doing that, it’s pretty much a sure bet that he’s the winner. But if we end up looking at a longer match where endurance plays a bigger factor, it becomes less clear who could be declared the surefire winner of this match up.
Ngannou v. Rozenstruik is an especially interesting match up given that the two fighters were basically unaware of one another until recently. Ngannou has been pressuring his manager to get him top-5 status contenders with little effect. He claims his repeated requests to get a fight with Alexander Volkov were denied, so when Rozenstruik stepped up the plate, he was all but happy to oblige him.
“Honestly he wasn’t the one that I was expecting but they wanted him to fight me and that’s why they made it so fast,” Ngannou said. “The guy went from ranked what, he was ranked 13 or 14 to No. 5 basically with that fight, that fight he had against Alistair Overeem so it was clear that they just wanted to push him up and to make that fight happen.”
“The only way I see the fight going is me knocking him out,” Ngannou said. “Round 1 or Round 2, I don’t know so I hope he’s good enough to pass Round 1 because Round 1 I’ll just take to set up.”
*All images and media courtesy of Instagram.