UFC 244 Preview And Picks: Andrei Arlovski Can Expect Questions About His Chin


SUNRISE, FLORIDA – APRIL 27: Andrei Arlovski of Belarus reacts during his heavyweight bout against … [+]

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It has to be rough knowing the UFC is booking you in a fight that it seems as if it kind of wants you to lose spectacularly. That’s the spot former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski finds himself in heading into Saturday’s UFC 244 fight card. The 40-year-old Arlovski, who is 3-8-0-1 dating back to January 2016, faces the 31-year-old Jairzinho Rozenstruik, who is 8-0 as a pro.

Arlovski ended a four-fight winless streak in July when he defeated Ben Rothwell by decision. The victory was the first time Arlovski had his hand raised since he defeated Stefan Struve by decision in March 2018. The good thing about that winless run was all the fights went the distance. In other words, Arlovski silenced a fair number of folks who had been questioning the fitness of his chin. You can expect those questions to arise once again ahead of his matchup with Rozenstruik.

Rozenstruik has seven knockout wins in his career and one decision victory. Six of those stoppages came in the first round. He opened his UFC run in February with a second-round knockout of Junior Albini. Rozenstruik followed up with a nine-second starching of Allen Crowder in June. That stoppage earned him a $50,000 “Performance of the Night” bonus. The only heavyweight to score a faster knockout was Todd Duffee, who put away Tim Hague in seven seconds at UFC 102.

Rozenstruik hails from Suriname and if you think you’ve heard that name before, well, you might have, that’s where Tyrone Spong was born.

Spong might only before a few years older than Rozenstruik, but that doesn’t mean the younger fighter doesn’t look up to the well-respected striker, who has competed in professional MMA, boxing and kickboxing.

“That’s my hero,” Rozenstruik told MMA Junkie after his win over Albini. “Before this fight we call a lot and he help me a lot. I’ve learn from Tyrone since a long time ago. The beginning of my career I met him. He’s there for me every time. He’s my hero. I want him to join in the UFC. That would be great.”

This booking feels like it was made with an eye on getting Rozenstruik some attention in a heavyweight division that is in desperate need of some new blood. If Rozenstruik can get a third UFC knockout over a fighter like Arlovski, whose name still carrier weight despite his record, Rozenstruik could find himself on the list heavyweights to keep an eye on.

UFC 244 takes place Saturday at New York’s Madison Square Garden. The pay-per-view card airs on ESPN+ following prelims on ESPN2 and ESPN+.

Pick: Rozenstruik