Jairzinho Rozenstruik (Tapology)

UFC Fight Night: Rozenstruik vs. Gaziev Preview and Predictions

On Saturday, Mar. 2, the big show returns to the UFC Apex in Las Vegas to host a rare fight card that comes with no top-ranked fighters or title implications, but it does have some intriguing match-ups. Headlining UFC Vegas 87 will be a battle of big men, as No. 12 heavyweight Jairzinho Rozenstruik takes on unranked Shamil Gaziev.

Rozenstruik has always put on an exciting show, and he has already headlined multiple UFC cards. He joined the promotion five years ago, has beaten some big names, has lost to some even bigger names, and he never puts on a boring fight. His last outing was in May 2023, when he lost a submission by rear-naked choke to Jailton Almeida. The Surinamese fighter needs to make a big statement over Gaziev to keep his spot in the top 15 of the rankings.

The undefeated Gaziev will be making only his second Octagon walk after submitting Greg Velasco on the Contender Series last Fall. His last fight was a dominant TKO victory over Martin Buday in December, and he will be looking to jump into the rankings with a win over Rozenstruik.


The co-main event finds Australia’s Tyson Pedro facing off against Brazil’s Vitor Petrino in a 205-pound affair. Petrino entered the Contender Series with a 6-0 record in Sep. 2022, and he earned a contract with a second-round knockout of Rodolfo Bellato. Since then, he has gone 3-0 in the UFC with his last win coming by knockout of Modestas Bukauskas in Nov. 2023. Pedro was on a two-fight winning streak through 2022, before dropping a decision to Bukauskas to kick off 2023. However, he bounced back with a first-round knockout of Anton Turkalj last September, and he will be looking to string together two wins once again.

UFC Fight Night: Rozenstruik vs. Gaziev airs live in its entirety on ESPN+ starting at 1 p.m. ET. Combat Press writers Dan Kuhl and Matt Petela preview the action in this week’s edition of Toe-to-Toe.

Shamil Gaziev headlines a UFC fight card in just his second fight with the promotion; can the undefeated prospect get past Jarizinho Rozenstruik?

Kuhl: Honestly, I don’t understand how the UFC brass can even call this fight a main event. I mean, I understand they have to fill dead space sometimes, but this event was supposed to be in Saudi Arabia. It ended up in Las Vegas at the Apex due to the lack of high-profile fights. Now, don’t get me wrong. Jairzinho Rozenstruik has headlined five UFC cards already, and his record in those fights is 2-3. But, Shamil Gaziev is only making his second Octagon appearance, and it’s not like he has the allure and talent of a Bo Nickal.

Gaziev might be 12-0 as a pro, but his first seven opponents combined for a total record of 5-5. Granted, his next three opponents combined for 34-6-1, but, of those, the best guy he faced was Kirill Kornilov, who he barely squeaked by with a questionable split decision. His first fight out of the gate, after he won on the Contender Series, was a formidable opponent in MArtin Buday, who was previously 4-0 in the Octagon, and that one was a drubbing. Gaziev’s relentless pressure hurt Buday in the first round, setting up a TKO in the second. However, the UFC’s No. 12 heavyweight Rozenstruik is no Buday.

Rozenstruik carries as much, if not more, relentless pressure than Gaziev does, and he hits like a brick shithouse. The Surinamese “Bigi Boy” has gone the distance with Ciryl Gane and Curtis Blaydes, was knocked out by Francis Ngannou and Alexander Volkov, but he knocked out Augusto Sakai and Chris Daukaus in Rd. 1, as well as Junior dos Santos in Rd. 2. He lives and dies by the sword, and that’s going to be a problem for Gaziev as he presses forward.

This one is not going the distance. Gaziev is not fighting Buday in this one, as Rozenstruik is not going to wilt so quickly. Gaziev is going to push forward with confidence, and that will get him slept before the midpoint of the fight. Rozenstruik by knockout.

Petela: For everyone’s sale, I sure hope this fight doesn’t go the distance. It will be too late in the day for a nap but too early for bed and if we see twenty-five minutes of these two heavyweights there’s no doubt that it will put the audience to sleep. That was the case when Rozenstruik headlined a UFC card for the first time when he got out pointed for nearly the entire fight against Alistair Overeem until a last second knockout scored him the victory.

For me, this one is almost a coin flip. It’s the proverbial unstoppable force meeting an immovable object. Two heavy-handed behemoths colliding until one falls. The kickboxing background of Rozenstruik will keep him safe enough to avoid getting clobbered early by Gaziev, and a short right hand will land for “Bigi Boy”. He will get his hand raised with a first-round knockout. This will be fun while it lasts, unless it lasts too long and then it won’t be fun at all.

Tyson Pedro has won three of his last four fights; how does the Australian brawler fare against undefeated Vitor Petrino?

Petela: This is the most exciting fight on the card, in my opinion. Rarely, if ever, does Tyson Pedro take part in a boring fight. Vitor Petrino has been wrecking people throughout his career, and the jump in competition inside the UFC hasn’t slowed him down. These two are going to put on a show.

Ultimately, Pedro’s willingness to stand and trade will be his undoing in this one. He is not quite the most refined striker in the world and will probably leave a few openings for Petrino to capitalize on when the pair engage. Early on in the fight, both men will give as good as they get, but with Pedro using more labored punches and wild swings, his gas tank will deplete quickly, and, by the second round, it will be a lot of haymakers mixed in with the occasional jab. A well-timed counter-punch from Petrino closes the show before the third round starts, and his star rises as he adds a big name to his resume.

Kuhl: I agree with my colleague that Vitor Petrino takes this one, but I think it happens on the ground. Petrino is the younger fighter, and he is slightly smaller than Tyson Pedro. With Pedro’s higher striking accuracy and reach advantage, Petrino will bide his time, and when the opportunity presents itself, he will take this one to the mat, where he holds the advantage. He pounds out Pedro by second-round TKO.

What one fighter’s UFC career is on the ropes at this event?

Kuhl: The loser of the fight between Eryk Anders and Jamie Pickett will likely get the walking papers. In fact, knowing the UFC, it’s surprising they’re even fighting, but on this card, the promotion needs anything it can get. Anders, the former NCAA Division I football champion, is 1-3 in his last four MMA fights, and Pickett is on a four-fight losing streak, three of which were finishes. I just don’t see a path to further employment for the guy who loses this one.

Petela: Matt Schnell. He has lost two of his last three fights and originally came up short against Rogerio Bontorin but that was overturned and declared a no-contest. He’s in for a heck of a fight this weekend against prospect Steve Erceg and if he doesn’t get the job done it could be the end of a nearly eight year run for him inside the UFC.

Which fight is the sleeper match-up on this card?

Petela: Javid Basharat vs. Aiemann Zahabi. Basharat is an undefeated fighter who looks to be the real deal. The only blemish on his record is a no-contest from when he mollywhopped Victor Henry with a kick below the belt that left Henry unable to fight. Zahabi, the younger brother of star trainer Faras Zahabi, is a very technical fighter who doesn’t often put himself in danger. It will be interesting to see how these two styles clash and who comes away with the victory.

Kuhl: I’m going back to Eryk Anders and Jamie Pickett on this one. When you have two middleweight sluggers with their backs against the wall, you have a recipe for fireworks. These guys are both going to be swinging for the fences, as they face down the proverbial pink slip.

Who takes home the “Performance of the Night” honors?

Kuhl: Somehow, Rozenstruik is the betting underdog in this one, but once he sends Shamil Gaziev into the shadow realm, he will surely line his pockets with some extra cash for the flight home.

Petela: Muhammad Mokaev. He has a real tough test against Alex Perez, but we know that Mokaev is as tough as they come and rises to the occasion when things get tough. Mokaev will push the pace early, out scramble Perez and sink in his seventh professional win via submission.

Pair this card with…

Petela: This is an afternoon fight card, and the weather is starting to turn, so fire up the grill and throw on some good old hamburgers and hotdogs. While neither main-event fighter is American, there’s just something about afternoon punch-face that screams, “USA,” so a classic American cookout is the perfect pairing.

Kuhl: Smelling salts. Joe Rogan can’t seem to shut up about smelling salts on his podcast, and, apparently, bodybuilders use them for a boost of energy. With the main and co-main events screaming, “knockouts,” I guess we could all try to test them out – two out of four guys at the top of the card will certainly need them.

Fight Kuhl’s Pick Petela’s Pick
Main Card (ESPN+, 4 p.m. ET)
HW: Jairzinho Rozenstruik vs. Shamil Gaziev Rozenstruik Rozenstruik
LHW: Vitor Petrino vs. Tyson Pedro Petrino Petrino
FlyW: Alex Perez vs. Muhammad Mokaev Mokaev Mokaev
BW: Umar Nurmagomedov vs. Bekzat Almakhan Nurmagomedov Nurmagomedov
FlyW: Matt Schnell vs. Steve Erceg Erceg Erceg
Preliminary Card (ESPN+, 1:30 p.m. ET)
MW: Eryk Anders vs. Jamie Pickett Anders Anders
BW: Vinicius Oliveira vs. Yanis Ghemmouri Oliveira Oliveira
BW: Javid Basharat vs. Aiemann Zahabi Basharat Zahabi
MW: Christian Leroy Duncan vs. Claudio Ribeiro Duncan Duncan
LW: Ludovit Klein vs. AJ Cunningham Klein Klein
LW: Loik Radzhabov vs. Abdul-Kareem Al-Selwady Al-Selwady Radzhabov