Preview and predictions for UFC Vegas 20: Jairzinho Rozenstruik vs. Ciryl Gane
After all four heavyweights bouts last week ended in highlight finishes, including Derrick Lewis’ knockout victory over Curtis Blaydes, UFC Vegas 20 will see Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Ciryl Gane get the chance to follow up in a heavyweight main event of their own.
Rozenstruik, who enters this matchup currently at No. 3 in the UFC heavyweight rankings, surged up the ranks with several highlight knockouts in 2019, earning FanSided MMA’s 2019 Rookie of the Year award in the process. His momentum was briefly halted with a knockout loss to Francis Ngannou at UFC 249, but he rebounded by finishing Junior dos Santos at UFC 252.
Like Rozenstruik, the unbeaten Gane, who is currently ranked No. 7, doesn’t have much experience in the Octagon, but he has impressed with submissions of Raphael Pessoa and Don’Tale Mayes in 2019, as well as a unanimous decision over Tanner Boser. Gane’s only fight of 2020 came in December at UFC 256, where he finished JDS.
Who will win at UFC Vegas 20: Jairzinho Rozenstruik or Ciryl Gane?
The co-main event of the evening will see Nikita Krylov, who scored a decision over Johnny Walker last year, taking on Magomed Ankalaev, coming off his first-round knockout of Ion Cutelaba at UFC 254, in a light heavyweight bout.
Other main card participants will include Pedro Munhoz and Jimmie Rivera — who were scheduled to compete earlier this month against one another before COVID-19 protocols prevented that from happening — as well as Angela Hill and Alex Caceres. The prelims, meanwhile, will feature Alexander Hernandez, Sabina Mazo, Alonzo Menifield, Dustin Jacoby and more.
Let’s take a closer look at the UFC Vegas 20 main card bouts.
Jairzinho Rozenstruik vs. Ciryl Gane preview and prediction
With a background in kickboxing, Jairzinho Rozenstruik got his UFC career off in a big way. After topping Junior Albini, Rozenstruik scored a nine-second KO over Allen Crowder and a 29-second KO of Andrei Arlovski, before going on to get a near-literal last-second win over Alistair Overeem. Rozenstruik suffered a setback with a 20-second KO loss to Francis Ngannou at UFC 249 but rebounded with a finish of Junior dos Santos at UFC 252.
With a background in Muay Thai, Ciryl Gane won the TKO heavyweight title in his professional MMA debut and went 3-0 before joining the UFC. His Octagon run thus far has seen Gane submit Raphael Pessoa and Don’Tale Mayes before scoring a decision win over Tanner Boser. Gane most recently competed at UFC 256, where he scored his own finish of JDS.
According to the Tale of the Tape, both are very similarly built, though Gane will have a three-inch reach advantage. Looking at the FightMetrics, Gane lands more strikes per minute on average, and he has a far better striking defense and striking differential — which may be a consequence of Rozenstruik’s fights with Overeem and Ngannou. Rozenstruik is a kickboxer and focuses on the stand-up; meanwhile, we’ve seen Gane do well with his takedowns and ground game. Rozenstruik does have a 75 percent takedown defense percentage, however.
As we saw this past weekend with Curtis Blaydes and Derrick Lewis, a single punch is all it can take to end a heavyweight fight — and that’s the kind of power Rozenstruik has in his hands. In fact, that happened when he scored a last-second finish of Overeem. Gane, however, is slightly younger, he’s quicker and he’s more developed all-around. Rozenstruik also has more professional fight experience, but is that really going to be enough to halt Gane’s momentum?
Either man has the ability to end the fight early with the right shot, especially Rozenstruik, but both men are also quite durable. It seems like a fight that surely shouldn’t go the distance, but at the same point, one that wouldn’t end so quickly. Rozenstruik has basically gone a full five rounds before (albeit minus a few seconds) while this is Gane’s first five-rounder, but at the same time, Gane feels more developed that if the fight goes longer, it’s more in his favor.
Considering all things, Gane may still need more development, but he’s already about to get his time to shine.
Prediction: Gane via third-round KO/TKO
Nikita Krylov vs. Magomed Ankalaev preview and prediction
After going 6-3 in his first UFC run and going on to win the Fight Nights Global light heavyweight title, Nikita Krylov returned to the Octagon in September, losing to current UFC light heavyweight champ Jan Blachowicz. He’d rebound with a submission win over Ovince Saint Preux at UFC 236 before dropping a split decision to Glover Teixeira. Most recently, Krylov took a unanimous decision win over Johnny Walker at UFC Brasilia in March.
Magomed Ankalaev dropped his UFC debut to Paul Craig in March 2018, but he hasn’t lost since. He’s won five straight, which includes a decision win over Klidson Abreu, as well as knockouts of Marcin Prachnio, Dalcha Lungiambula and Ion Cutelaba.
Both men hold a similar height, but Krylov has a two-inch reach advantage. According to the FightMetrics, Krylov throws and lands more, but his striking accuracy isn’t all that much better than Ankalaev’s — and Ankalaev’s defensive numbers are far and away more superior. On top of that, while Krylov is able to score a takedown or two in a fight usually, his takedown accuracy isn’t great, and Ankalaev’s takedown defense percentage is at 85 percent.
Krylov has definitely faced tough competition, and he is definitely better should this fight go to the ground. So expect Krylov to pursue the takedown often in this one, while Ankalaev will try to keep this a standing-and-trading war. Krylov should definitely not be counted out of this fight, but Ankalaev being the better striker isn’t going to do him any favors — even if the fight is on the ground, Krylov could be in trouble if Ankalaev gets on top and overwhelms him with strikes. Ankalaev is a powerful finisher, and a finish of Krylov will certainly send a statement.
Prediction: Ankalaev via third-round KO/TKO
Montana De La Rosa vs. Mayra Bueno Silva preview and prediction
Coming into the UFC through season 26 of The Ultimate Fighter, Montana De La Rosa got off on the right foot with three submissions wins against Christina Marks, Rachael Ostovich and Nadia Kaseem. She’s lost two of her last three, however, dropping decisions against Andrea Lee and Viviane Araujo — though with a decision win over Mara Romero Borella in-between.
Mayra Bueno Silva scored a 62-second submission of Mayana Souza on Dana White’s Contender Series Brazil in 2018 to earn a UFC deal. She submitted Gillian Robertson in her September 2018 debut before suffering her first loss as a pro to Maryna Moroz at UFC Brasilia last year. Silva most recently submitted Borella at UFC Vegas 11 in August.
De La Rosa will have a one-inch height edge and a two-inch reach advantage. Per FightMetrics, Silva lands more, but she absorbs a lot more — though her striking defense percentage isn’t far off from De La Rosa’s. De La Rosa pursues takedowns often in the cage, and she usually scores multiple in a fight, but she’s quite often unsuccessful. And not only does Silva have a good takedown defense, but she can also be just as aggressive for control and submissions.
This one can probably end up being a lot of exchanging and grappling on the ground. And while De La Rosa is the big takedown pursuer, it may ultimately cost her. Silva can do more than her fair share, and she may not only keep up with De La Rosa on the ground, she might trouble her. De La Rosa better have brought a better striking game and multiple plans, or this one might not end up going her way.
Prediction: Silva via unanimous decision
Pedro Munhoz vs. Jimmie Rivera preview and prediction
This is a rematch of Pedro Munhoz and Jimmie Rivera’s original meeting in November 2015, which Rivera won via split decision.
Munhoz had previously won seven of eight, which included finishes of Justin Scoggins, Rob Font and Bryan Caraway, before solidifying upper-echelon contender status at bantamweight with a first-round knockout of former champ Cody Garbrandt at UFC 235. Munhoz enters this fight, however, off two decision losses — to Aljamain Sterling at UFC 238 and a close, controversial split decision to Frankie Edgar at UFC Vegas 7.
When Rivera defeated Munhoz originally, it was his 17th straight victory and 18th win in 19 bouts. He’d go on to defeat Iuri Alcantara, Urijah Faber and Thomas Almeida before suffering a 33-second knockout loss to Marlon Moraes. Rivera defeated John Dodson, but he went on to drop decisions to Sterling and current bantamweight champ Petr Yan. Rivera competed at featherweight last time out, defeating Cody Stamann.
Munhoz will hold a two-inch height edge, but Rivera will have a three-inch advantage in reach. Per FightMetrics, Munhoz has the better striking offense stats, namely in output, but Rivera is the better defender and has taken less damage by the numbers. And with both men not going for takedowns often, and with striking backgrounds, expect this one to be contested almost, if not all, exclusively on the feet.
Both men are highly talented all-around, and their recent losses have come to upper-echelon competition at 135. But with all the different moving pieces and said losses, both men are in need of a win here. When originally previewing this rematch, Munhoz seemed to have bigger upside and more momentum — especially with the controversy regarding his loss to Edgar. And that point may now be more emphasized with Rivera’s positive COVID-19 test. How will the illness, and how will the extra time, affect him? Munhoz seems to be the safer bet here, but it could be close.
Prediction: Munhoz via unanimous decision
Angela Hill vs. Ashley Yoder preview and prediction
This is a fight that was made just this past week and is a rematch of a bout, which Angela Hill won, that took place at The Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale.
Hill made history almost exactly one year ago by becoming the first female UFC fighter to compete six times within a 12-month period — a span that ended with a three-fight win streak that saw her score TKOs of Ariane Carnelossi and Hannah Cifers, as well as a decision over Loma Lookboonmee. Hill, however, will come into this contest off back-to-back narrow split-decision losses against Claudia Gadelha and Michelle Waterson.
Ashley Yoder’s Octagon run got off to a shaky start with three straight losses to Justine Kish and Mackenzie Dern, in addition to the loss to Hill. Yoder did rebound with wins over Amanda Cooper and Syuri Kondo, but she dropped decisions to Randa Markos and Livia Renata Souza. Yoder’s most recent fight came in November at UFC Vegas 14, where she took a decision over Miranda Granger.
Yoder will come into this bout with a good physical edge — four inches in height and five inches in reach. Looking at FightMetrics, Hill is certainly the more aggressive striker, but her battles over the past couple of years have led to her also eating a lot of damage. Yoder usually scores a takedown or two in a fight, but she’ll have to deal with the 77 percent takedown defense of Hill.
Hill may not have the size that Yoder has, and it may force her to fight from a distance while trying to get inside — especially with Yoder’s grappling. But, Hill has played this game before and won, and she currently has momentum on her side. In fact, some may feel Hill should be in a better position than she is now given the controversial nature of the last two decisions. In this case, Hill seems to still be the better fighter, and the favorite, on paper.
Prediction: Hill via unanimous decision
Alex Caceres vs. Kevin Croom preview and prediction
A decade-long veteran of the UFC, Alex Caceres will enter this fight on three consecutive wins, defeating Steven Peterson and Chase Hooper by decision, the latter of which coming at UFC 250, and most recently scoring a first-round submission win over Austin Springer at UFC Vegas 8.
Coming off a three-fight win streak, Kevin Croom, a veteran of Bellator, LFA and Titan FC, made his short-notice UFC debut against Roosevelt Roberts at UFC Vegas 10, pulling off a major shocker by submitting Roberts in 31 seconds. The bout, however, was overturned to a no-contest after Croom tested positive for marijuana following the fight.
It’s another fight where both men are virtually identical (shoutout to Mike Goldberg) physically, with Croom holding just a one-inch reach edge. Believe it or not, despite Croom having just one UFC bout entering this fight, he has more fight experience than Caceres does.
And in terms of their skillsets, this is another potentially even battle, at least on paper. Croom displayed some good grappling ability in his big upset over Roberts, but Caceres has shown on a number of occasions that he can hold his own on the ground. Both have some decently quick hands as well. It’s very close, but perhaps it’s best to lean towards the fighter with more experience — bright-lights, UFC experience that is.
Prediction: Caceres via unanimous decision
UFC Vegas 20 takes place on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021, live from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, NV. Follow along with FanSided for all your live news and highlights.