Jairzinho Rozenstruik sports a 7-0 professional MMA record and his eyes are locked onto gold in the UFC heavyweight division.
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Rozenstruik made a splash in his UFC debut this past February after signing a four-fight deal in December 2018. He faced off against Junior Albini on a month’s notice and showcased his power with a second-round TKO finish.
The 31-year-old former professional kickboxer hopes to breathe new life into a heavyweight division in need of exciting prospects.
Rozenstruik returns to the Octagon at UFC Fight Night 154. He’ll face Allen Crowder on the card in Greenville, South Carolina. Before his second UFC bout, he spoke to John Hyon Ko of The Body Lock about his last win, his camp and his pursuit of the heavyweight title.
Jairzinho Rozenstruik vs. Junior Albini
Rozenstruik’s showing didn’t come without an early test.
Albini, knowing of his opponent’s devastating knockout power, showed minimal interest in striking with Rozenstruik. He was able to take Rozenstruik down early and even got in position for a kimura that he was unable to secure.
The fight on the feet was a different story. Rozenstruik survived the early grappling attempts from Albini and implemented his own game plan.
Early in the second round, “Bigi Boy” tagged Albini with a four-punch combination followed by a head kick that slumped Albini against the cage. The ref stepped in as Rozenstruik unleashed a flurry of ground and pound strikes, giving the UFC newcomer his first taste of victory in the Octagon.
“For me, it was a good performance,” Rozenstruik said. “Everything I trained just happened and I came out good and I just [won] the fight.”
Rozenstruik returned to his home country of Suriname to celebrate his accomplishment with all of his supporters.
“It was awesome that my fans and family and friends would want to celebrate this moment with me,” he said. “I feel very blessed to be in this position.”
Rozenstruik said he enjoyed his time back at home for three weeks before jumping right back into the grind for his next fight.
Welcome to the Octagon, @JairRozenstruik!
— UFC (@ufc) February 2, 2019
Team Bigi Boy
Rozenstruik has been training in Aruba for his next bout since March. After filling in on short notice for his last bout, “Bigi Boy” wanted a full camp in order to get in his “best shape ever” for his fight against Crowder on June 22.
He brought in some new training partners to help round out some of the weaknesses in his game, mainly in the grappling department. Rozenstruik, along with his team members, use a wide variety of training methods, many of which are available to watch on his YouTube channel.
“We do those things because we try to be doing everything,” Rozenstruik said. “We want to be ready for everything that’s coming. If he’s going to go on the ground, if he’s going to stand up, even if he want[s] to fly, we’re ready to fly.”
Aside from the newcomers, Rozenstruik has a tight-knit team. His camps are led by Michael Babb, the first coach he ever had.
“He saw me and he believed in me from the beginning,” Rozenstruik said of Babb.
To Rozenstruik, Babb is more than just a head coach.
“He is also a mentor,” Rozenstruik said. “He’s coaching me in every kind of way in life.”
“Bigi Boy” is embarking on what could be the toughest journey of his career in combat sports, and he has no intention of doing it with anyone else.
“We worked together for a long time and everything we do just work[s] and we have a good relationship with each other,” Rozenstruik said. “Why change a winning team?”
Gunning for the gold
The next step in his road toward the UFC belt is Crowder. Rozenstruik is confident that this camp will have him prepared for whatever his opponent throws at him.
“It’s going to be an awesome fight,” Rozenstruik said. “I’m going to put on a great show.”
Of course, “Bigi Boy” is also paying close attention to the developments at the top of the food chain at heavyweight. He even gave his prediction for the rematch between champion Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic for the title.
“I think Stipe’s gonna take this one,” Rozenstruik said. “Cormier is a good fighter. He did it a long time… I think he’s getting a little bit tired and somebody else is coming to collect that belt.”
No matter who emerges victorious at UFC 241, he can’t get too comfortable. Rozenstruik is on a mission to capture the strap.
“Those guys have to keep in mind I’m coming,” Rozenstruik said. “It’s my division, and I’m not in the division for nothing. I’m coming to collect.”
Shane Connelly is a journalism student at Penn State with a passion for sharing the stories of MMA fighters.