Heavyweight Takes: Path to Victory at UFC Vegas 20

This Saturday we have two bouts that will reveal the heavyweight and light heavyweight division’s newest top prospects! In the main event we have Jairzinho Rozenstruik taking on Ciryl Gane. Both men look to climb up the UFC’s heavyweight ladder to capture a shot at UFC gold. In the co-main event, we have two light heavyweight prospects looking to advance their winning ways as Nikita Krylov faces off against Magomed Ankalaev. Two fights to determine possible future title challengers! Now let’s explore the path to victory for the four men competing this Saturday night.

Co-Main Event – Nikita Krylov vs Magomed Ankalaev

Nikita “The Miner” Krylov

27-7 MMA, 8-5 UFC | 11 (T)KOs 15 Submissions | 6’3” (191cm) | 77.5” Reach

As the #8 ranked UFC light heavyweight (205lbs), Nikita Krylov has a little way to go before competing for a UFC title. He’s currently looking to improve his current win streak to 2 wins. During his time in the UFC, he has competed in both the light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions. In both divisions, he’s beaten the likes of Walt Harris, Ed Herman, Ovince St Preaux, and Johnny Walker. He’s also fought the current #1 ranked Glover Teixeira bought fell short losing a split decision. Now “The Miner” is eyeing a potential step-up in rankings as he faces Magomed Ankalaev come Saturday night. Let’s take a look at his path to victory!

Path to Victory

A black belt in Kyokushin Karate, Nikita Krylov has a beautiful series of kicks and setups for the kicks. Having 11 finishes on the feet, Krylov must look to keep the fight standing and use distance to stay in kicking range. He’ll have to control the center of the octagon and use his blitzing movement to push his opponent back. Krylov has one of the best question-mark kicks in the division and will look to set up the kick.

In order to set up his technique, the Karate black belt will need to employ a significant amount of punch feints, push kicks, and leg kicks. The punches will help to get his opposition’s hands up. As the hands go up the push kick or front kick will be open to the body. If all the kicks go low, eventually the opponent will start trying to block low. Either blocking the legs or body it will open up the question mark kick.

Another component for his success during fight night will be not to panic on the ground. If Magomed Ankalaev decides to take this fight to the ground, Krylov has 15 finishes via submission. He can’t get frantic and start to scramble on the floor. He needs to gain control of his opponent and look to transition to his feet or set up a submission to either finish the fight or get to his feet.

Ultimately, the Ukrainian needs to keep the fight standing. He needs to maintain distance to keep Ankalaev away from him and control the center of the octagon. Controlling the center will make his opponent take unnecessary risks to regain control. Krylov also needs to stay calm and patient if the fight goes to the ground. He has all the tools to win a clear decision or a (T)KO finish. Easier said than done but with a 96% finishing rate, Krylov has a big chance to put Magomed Ankalaev down to the canvas.

Magomed Ankalaev

14-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC | 9 (T)KOs | 6’3” (191cm) | 75” Reach

Sitting at #11 in the light heavyweight (205lbs) divisions, Ankalaev looks to continue his path of destruction. He’s currently riding a 5 fight win streak looking to make it 6 in his return to the octagon. Like most of the fighters from Dagestan, Russia Magomed Ankalaev is a former sambo competitor. He also earned his “Master of Sports” in MMA by Fedor Emelianenko! Come Saturday night, Ankalaev looks to beat Nikita Krylov to continue his win streak and continue to his win streak. Before that takes place let’s dive into his path to victory.

Path to Victory

As a natural southpaw, Ankalaev tends to switch stances often giving his opponents different looks. A lot like most of the fighters from Dagestan, he marches forward, moves his head, and wants to grind you against the cage. Along with his forceful approach, he enjoys throwing damaging round kicks to the liver and head of his opponents.

During Ankalaev’s bout with Nikita Krylov, he will look to get smother him against the octagon’s fence. To achieve the cage position, the man from Dagestan needs to do what he does best. That is walk down the opponent and throw his powerful strikes. Once against the fence, he can bombard his foe with a string of knees and body punches. He can also look to take his opposition to the canvas and deliver a barrage of ground strikes.

Everything Ankalaev will do in the first and midway through the second will be against the cage. Whether he suffocates Krylov on the ground with pressure or keeps the fight against the cage, Magomed Ankalaev wants to break his opponent by causing fatigue and using constant constraint. Once his opponent is exhausted that is where he looks to finish the fight or continue to torture his opposer. The Russian will then keep taking the fight to the ground or will stay standing for the remainder of the contest.

Main Event – Jairzinho Rozenstruik vs Ciryl Gane

Jairzinho “Bigi Boy” Rozenstruik

11-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC | 10 (T)KOs | 6’4” (193cm) | 78” Reach

Currently the #4 ranked UFC Heavyweight (206-265lbs), Jairzinho Rozenstruik wants to stop the hype train that is Ciryl Gane. His only loss coming from Gane’s training partner, Francis Ngannou, Rozenstruik seeks to potentially avenge his loss by beating Ciryl Gane. A recent win against Junior Dos Santos has Rozenstruik looking to continue his impressive knockout streak. Since his UFC career began he has knocked out ALL of his opponents. Now he pursues another potential victim on Saturday night. Let’s take a look at his path to victory!

Path to Victory

“Bigi Boy’s” quickest win in the UFC was a 10-second first-round KO over Allen Crowder and the longest was a come-from-behind win against Alistair Overeem in the fifth round with only 4 seconds remaining! The gist is he is always dangerous!

To see success, Rozenstruik must look to stay patient and utilize his kickboxing arsenal. Gane likes to use a karate-esque stance where he stands sideways and is almost hopping back and forth. To negate this Rozenstruik must chip away at his legs. Constant leg kicks will take away his opponent’s mobility forcing his foe to stay in the same place.

Once immobilized, “Bigi Boy” can look to open up his attacks and capitalize with his sledgehammer-like power! All he has to do is stay patient because Rozenstruik has five rounds to pick apart Ciryl Gane and eventually win the fight.

Ciryl “Bon Gamin” Gane

7-0 MMA, 4-0 MMA | 3 (T)KOs 3 Submissions | 6’4” (193cm) | 83” Reach

Gane is currently the #7 ranked heavyweight looking to improve his ranking and ultimately become the UFC heavyweight champion. He has 7 wins in total but has only gone to a decision once. It may seem as if Gane has had a short career but he has also competed in Muay Thai. Never seeing defeat in both Muay Thai and MMA, the Frenchman looks to continue his winning ways come Saturday night but first has to get past the always dangerous Jairzinho Rozenstruik. Let’s take a closer look at his path to victory.

Path to Victory

Ciryl Gane is arguably one of the most diverse heavyweight fighters we have seen in this day and age. He has shown both a beautiful display of striking along with an alluring ground game. Come fight night he will need to use his striking but not to seek a finish, instead to take this fight to the ground. In order to do so, he must look to keep his head movement and use his bouncing stance to blitz his opponent.

The blitzing attack causes the opponent to make sudden movements. Movements like this cause a fighter to panic and take unnecessary risks. Gane must look to take advantage of the unnecessary risk and take the fight to the ground. Once on the ground, he can look to land a barrage of punishment. The strikes will make Rozenstruik frantic and will leave an exposed neck for Gane to snatch. Much like his fight against Raphael Pessoa, the Frenchman was able to blitz him, hurting Pessoa and bring the fight to the ground where he finished via arm-triangle choke.

If Jairzinho Rozenstruik gets up from the ground, “Bon Gamin” can utilize his Muay Thai by landing knees and elbows from the clinch and reshoot for a takedown.

As long as Cyril Gane can close the distance between himself and his opponent, the less power Rozenstruik can generate for a vicious blow. In order to close the distance, he needs to blitz Rozenstruik to capitalize on his mistakes, overwhelm him with strikes on the ground and win a five-round decision or possibly strangle Rozenstruik with a choke.

UFC Vegas 20: Rozenstruik vs Gane will air Saturday, February 27th, on ESPN and ESPN+ at 6 pm ET. Watch the fights and see who emerges victorious on the evening. More importantly, tune in to see if they can execute on their “Path to Victory”.

Michael Ramos

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