The potential heavyweight title eliminator between contenders, Francis ‘The Predator’ Ngannou, and Jairzinho ‘Bigi Boy’ Rozenstruik has been kept intact from the cancelled UFC 249 card at Tachi Palace Resort Casino on April 18th. – and is expected to feature on a UFC card on May 9th. News of the planned heavyweight pairing was first reported by ESPN journalist, Brett Okamoto.
The cancellation of the UFC 249 pay-per-view event in Lemoore, California by promotional president Dana White seemed to have spelt the end of Octagon action for the foreseeable future, amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but the promotion will look to return to schedule on May 9th. Ngannou vs. Rozenstruik is expected to come before a trio of title clashes.
Cameroonian-born knockout artist, Ngannou, has been out of action since his first-round demolition of former champion, Junior dos Santos last June – was set to headline UFC Fight Night Columbus on March 28th. opposite Rozenstruik, until the cancellation of that card as well. Before his win over JDS, the 33-year-old had notched early knockouts of Cain Velasquez, and former-foe, Curtis Blaydes. A victory for Ngannou likely sets him up for a second heavyweight title tilt, following his first promotional defeat to Stipe Miocic back in 2018.
Despite only making his first Octagon appearance last February, Suriname finisher, Jairzinho Rozenstruik has blitzed the rankings of an evolving heavyweight division. The former kickboxing standout first picked up wins over Júnior Albini and Allen Crowder, before a one-punch stoppage of former champion, Andrei Arlovski, and a rallying performance against his fellow decorated kickboxer, Alistair Overeem. The 32-year-old has claimed the #6 rank at heavyweight as a result.
Given the current lie of the division, the emerging victor from this clash is likely to earn a championship opportunity for their next Octagon outing toward the final quarter of the year – given the promotion’s plan to make a rubber-match between the previously mentioned, Miocic, and former two-weight world champion, Daniel ‘DC’ Cormier.