UFC Fight Night: Overeem vs. Rozenstruik Preview

A preview of Saturday’s UFC Fight Night card, set to take place in Washington, D.C.

Updated: Dec. 4, 2019 • 10:32 PM ET

Washington, D.C. will host this weekend's UFC Fight Night event.

The UFC will invade the nation’s capital on Saturday for UFC Fight Night with a main event featuring a heavyweight bout between No. 6 Alistair Overeem and rising contender Jairzinho Rozenstruik at Capital One Arena.

Overeem was originally scheduled to face fellow contender Walt Harris, but Harris withdrew from the fight to continue a search for his missing step-daughter, whose body has unfortunately been since discovered. Despite the difficult circumstances surrounding the fight, Overeem, who is also a father, will still step in the Octagon this weekend.

Overeem is riding two straight TKO wins, the first coming against Sergei Pavlovich and most recently over Alexey Oleynik in April. The 39-year-old Dutch fighter is 4-2 since unsuccessfully challenging Stipe Miocic for the heavyweight title in September 2016 when he lost by knockout. He has been a professional MMA fighter since 1999, while also boasting a winning kickboxing record and winning the K-1 World Grand Prix in 2010.

Overeem was also a DREAM and Strikeforce champion, and the only thing missing from his resume is a UFC title. In MMA, he has wins over some of the best who have ever stepped in the Octagon, including Vitor Belfort (twice), Mark Hunt (twice), Fabricio Werdum (twice), Brock Lesnar, Frank Mir, Stefan Struve, Roy Nelson, Junior Dos Santos and Andrei Arlovski. Overeem isn’t as durable as he once was, but he still poses a problem to anyone because of his dangerous striking.

He still loves the everyday grind of being a fighter.

“What motivates me is I love to train,” Overeem recently said via Sherdog. “I love to improve. I have my own goals, of course — UFC gold. To win the title would be a great close on my career. But besides that, just to improve every day.”

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There’s no doubt that with a win, Overeem would once again move a step closer to another title shot. When a heavyweight can put together a three-fight winning streak in the division, they’re usually within arm’s reach of a title shot.

“I think us fighters go for amazing stories,” Overeem said. “My career in particular has been a long adventure. I think I was built for it.

“I’ve been all over the world. I’ve fought in 89 fights, kickboxing and MMA. I’m just doing my thing. I’m following my passion. It’s been a great adventure and I’m still going strong.”

The No. 14 ranked Rozenstruik is 9-0 in his MMA career and 3-0 in the UFC. He’s coming off finishes of Junior Albini, Allen Crowder and most recently, former champion Andrei Arlovski on November 2. Stepping in on short notice against a perennial UFC contender shows his dedication to proving that he belongs among the elite and is a threat to challenge for the title.

The 31-year-old Rozenstruik shares a similar kickboxing background with Overeem, as he put together a 76-8-1 record with 64 knockouts and was a multiple time heavyweight champion. The Surinamese fighter made his professional MMA debut in 2012, winning his first two fights, but did not fight in MMA again until 2017. Since then, he has won six of his seven fights by KO or TKO.

Rozenstruik has also recorded the second-fastest UFC knockout by a heavyweight, defeating Crowder in nine seconds back in June. Should Rozenstruik defeat Overeem in spectacular fashion, he could shake things up in the heavyweight top 10 rankings and take Overeem’s spot as the next potential title challenger.

 

Co-main event

Saturday’s co-main event will be a strawweight fight between No. 9 Marina Rodriguez and No. 10 Cynthia Calvillo. The fight was originally scheduled to be between Calvillo and former title challenger Claudia Gadelha, but a broken finger and torn ligament forced Gadelha to withdraw from the bout.

Rodriguez (12-0-1, 3-0-1 in the UFC) made her debut on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series in 2018, winning her fight by TKO. She most recently defeated contender Tecia Torres by unanimous decision in August. The 32-year-old Rodriguez has only trained in MMA for six years and shows significant improvement with every fight.

Calvillo last fought in February when she defeated Cortney Casey by unanimous decision. She’s 5-1 in the UFC with her only loss coming by unanimous decision to former champion Carla Esparza in 2017. The 32-year-old is confident she has a clear advantage over Rodriguez.

“I feel like it’s going to be a fun fight standing, but if it hits the ground, it’s going to be game over,” Calvillo told MMA Junkie. “So if I get that opportunity to take her down, it’s going to be a quick finish for sure.

“It’s going to be ground by elbows, first round ground-and-pound. It goes down, it’s going to be over. There’s going to be a submission or ground and pound. She’s either going to get stopped with a ground-and-pound TKO, or she’s just going to turn around and give me her neck.”

Calvillo has flown under the radar in the strawweight title contender conversation, but a third win a row could set her up nicely for a possible title eliminator fight with another fighter in the top five of the division’s rankings.

 

The rest of the main card on ESPN at 9 p.m. ET

Heavyweight bout: Stefan Struve vs. Ben Rothwell

Women’s bantamweight bout: No. 5 Aspen Ladd vs. No. 7 Yana Kunitskaya

Bantamweight bout: No. 9 Cody Stamann vs. No. 13 Song Yadong

 

ESPN Prelims on ESPN at 7 p.m. ET

Bantamweight bout: No. 10 Rob Font vs. Ricky Simon

Welterweight bout: Thiago Alves vs. Tim Means

Featherweight bout: Billy Quarantillo vs. Chris Fishgold

Featherweight bout: Bryce Mitchell vs. Matt Sayles

 

Early Prelims on ESPN+ at 5:30 p.m. ET

Lightweight bout: Joe Solecki vs. Matt Wiman

Women’s strawweight bout: No. 15 Livinha Souza vs. Virna Jandiroba

Light heavyweight bout: Makhmud Muradov vs. Trevor Smith

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