Event: UFC on ESPN 7: Overeem vs. Rozenstruik
Location & Venue: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.
Date: Saturday, December 7th 2019
Start time: Main Card: 9p.m. ET, Prelims 7p.m. ET, Early Prelims 5:45p.m. ET
Where to watch: ESPN for Main Card & Prelims, ESPN+ for Early Prelims
The UFC is back from its three week hiatus. I’d say that it’s been too long, but following twelve straight weeks of events, it definitely felt needed. Now they’re back, and ready to close out the year, starting with this weekend’s card in Washington DC.
Let’s jump into our picks and predictions for UFC on ESPN 7: Overeem vs. Rozenstruik:
Thiago Alves vs. Tim Means
Welterweight (170 lbs) Preliminary Card Headliner
For my first pick of the event, we jump all the way up to the card’s prelim headliner for a bout between two guys nearing the end of their fighting careers.
On one side we have the former UFC welterweight title challenger, Thiago Alves. He’s now over a decade removed from his title fight against GSP, which is quite remarkable to think that he’s still around and having competitive fights. Alves has shown he’s no longer the aggressive finisher he once was, and we can see that in his now more reserved and calculated style. Other than his brutal KO loss to Curtis Millender in February 2018, his other five fights since 2016 have all gone to a decision.
Tim “The Dirty Bird” Means has always been more of a fringe fighter in the UFC. Every time he looks as though he could be about to push on, he suffers a loss and it extinguishes his momentum. He’s the favorite in this fight and for good reason. His length and reach is far greater than Alves’, and I expect him to maintain the distance and out volume Alves with relative ease. I’m not going to be playing him straight as I have a few concerns with him coming off a bad KO loss, but I do see him winning this fight via the judges’ scorecards.
Take this fight to go the distance. Neither guy has the power to really threaten for a flush knockout, and -112 is great value.
Pick: Fight Goes the Distance - 2 Units @ -112 (to Return 3.786 Units)
Cody Stamann vs. Song Yadong
Bantamweight (135 lbs) Main Card Bout
This is a fascinating fight. We have the surging up-and-comer, Song Yadong, and the ever consistent Cody Stamann.
Yadong has looked amazing in the UFC so far, finishing 3 of his four fights via KO/TKO. He’s still only 22, so it’s pretty incredible to think that he’s got 19 pro fights under his belt. Every time he’s fought in the UFC he seems to present something new to us, and last time it was a fantastic right cross to KO the seemingly durable Alejandro Perez.
Stamann is currently in his prime at 30, and his only loss in the UFC was from a slick kneebar submission from (now) title contender Aljamain Sterling. Unlike Yadong, Stamann is more of a known quantity. We’ve seen him go to 4 decisions in the company against fighters of varying capabilities, and prior to that he had a long and successful showing at regional promotions.
There’s no doubt that Yadong has power, but we’ve never seen Stamann get finished by strikes, or even put in any serious danger. I see this as a spot to take the “goes the distance” prop again. Both guys are lightning quick on the feet, and we’ve seen that it’s tough to land on Stamann. Take the plus money on this to go to the distance.
Pick: Fight Goes the Distance – 1 Unit @ +110 (to Return 2.1 Units)
Alistair Overeem vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik
Heavyweight (265 lbs) Main Event
It’s the big one, the heavyweight main event.
Jairzinho Rozenstruik enters this fight with an undefeated 9-0 record. He’s only had 3 fights in the UFC, but he’s finished all of them via vicious KO, with two of them coming in less than 30 seconds. Often this means that we might not know a whole lot about a fighter when this happens, but we saw plenty of what he had to offer in his fight with Junior Albini at the start of the year. In that fight, he was taken down and dominated for much of the first round before Albini gassed and was swiftly taken out early in the second. What that showed me was that he could be seriously out of his depth when he’s on his back against even middling ground fighters at this level.
We know exactly what we’re getting with Overeem; exceptional kickboxing with insane striking accuracy, and deadly clinch work. He has all the tools to win this fight. Even when taking into account Rozenstruik’s solid kickboxing base, he’s still slower and more plodding than ‘Reem. The only real question mark is Overeem’s ability to take damage. We’ve seen the man get KO’ed via some horrific shots in the UFC, but it’s important to note that they all came against absolute killers at the top of the division. That’s not to say that Jair’ couldn’t catch him, but until he’s beaten the best (aka Overeem), it’s tough to hold him to that esteem.
Considering Overeem trains at Elevation Fight Team with wrestling ace Curtis Blaydes, I expect him to go out there and utilize the skills that he likely trains every day. I’ve got Overeem winning via a quick ground and pound victory, very similarly to his win over Sergey Pavlovich just over a year ago.
Pick: Alistair Overeem – 2.5 Units @ -110 (to Return 4.77 Units)
UFC on ESPN 7 Full Fight Card Predictions:
UFC on ESPN 7 Main Event Prediction:
Heavyweight (265 lbs): Alistair Overeem vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik – Alastair Overeem via TKO
UFC on ESPN 7 Main Card Predictions:
(W) Strawweight (115 lbs): Cynthia Calvillo vs. Marina Rodriguez – Marina Rodriquez via Decision
Heavyweight (265 lbs): Ben Rothwell vs. Stefan Struve – Stefan Struve via Decision
(W) Bantamweight (135 lbs): Yana Kunitskaya vs. Aspen Ladd – Aspen Ladd via TKO
Bantamweight (135 lbs): Cody Stamann vs. Song Yadong – Cody Stamann via Decision
Bantamweight (135 lbs): Rob Font vs. Ricky Simon – Ricky Simon via Decision
UFC on ESPN 7 Prelims Card Predictions:
Welterweight (170 lbs): Thiago Alves vs. Tim Means – Tim Means via Decision
Featherweight (145 lbs): Jacob Kilburn vs. Billy Quarantillo – Billy Quarantillo via Decision
Featherweight (145 lbs): Bryce Mitchell vs. Matt Sayles – Matt Sayles via Decision
Lightweight (155lbs): Joe Solecki vs. Matt Wiman – Joe Solecki via Decision
UFC on ESPN 7 Early Prelim Card Predictions:
(W) Strawweight (115lbs): Virna Jandiroba vs. Mallory Martin - Virna Jandiroba via Submission
Middleweight (185lbs): Makhmud Muradov vs. Trevor Smith - Makhmud Muradov via KO