UFC Heavyweights will collide on March 2nd when Jairzinho ‘Bigi Boy’ Rozenstruik and Shamil Gaziev meet at the UFC Apex.
The two will headline the UFC Vegas 87 card as Rozenstruik looks to get back to winning ways and Gaziev attempts to break into the rankings in only his second fight with the promotion.
An impressive start in the UFC, with three stoppage victories against Junior Albini, Andrei Arlovski & Alistair Overeem shot ‘Bigi Boy’ deep into the division, placing him at number six in the rankings. For his next outing, he faced the number 2 ranked Francis Ngannou. Rozenstruik found himself on the wrong side of a highlight reel knock out just 20 seconds into the contest, eating a huge left hand which instantly rendered him unconscious against the formidable Ngannou.
Not to dwell on the defeat, it was a relatively quick turn around for the Suriname native as he was back in the octagon against yet another legend, in Junior dos Santos a second round stoppage meant Rozenstruik was once again back in the win column and back on his road to UFC gold.
2021 would prove to be his second most active year with the promotion, but it didn’t get off to the best of starts. Rozenstruik met the then unbeaten 7-0-0 prospect Cyril Gane in a headline UFC Fight Night bout. ‘Bigi Boy’ dropped every single round of the 5 round main event to the Frenchman and was once again pushed another few steps back from his UFC championship dream. A win against Augusto Sakai helped him take a small step in the right direction before back to back defeats against Curtis Blaydes and Alexander Volkov in 2021 and 2022, respectively, all but led to the 35-year old having to totally rebuild his career.
There was a glimpse of hope of it happening when he beat Chris Daukaus at UFC 282, but in his sole bout of 2023, he was back on the wrong side of results, dropping a first round submission loss to Jailton Almeida at UFC on ABC 4.
On the other side of the scale, Shamil Gaziev is still yet to taste defeat as a professional. After a stellar amateur career, which saw him claim numerous IMMAF medals including gold at the 2019 European Championships, Gaziev joined the pro ranks in 2020.
After six fights, six finishes and five first round stoppages, heads were starting to turn and many global promotions were keeping an eye on the up and coming Russian born Heavyweight.
He would need just one more first round win at the start of 2022 before ARES came along and offered him a tough matchup against the unbeaten Kirill Kornilov. It was a huge step up in competition and it showed, with Gaziev going the distance for the first time in his career, just edging a split decision win.
He then competed twice on BRAVE and collected two stoppage wins before the Contender Series opportunity was presented to him in 2023. Gaziev shone on the Contender Series and needed less than three minutes to wrap up a rear naked choke and earn his contract with the UFC.
His promotional debut came three months later against Martin Buday, who was on a 12 fight winning streak, including four wins within the UFC, at the time. Gaziev put an end to his opponent's impressive run. After piecing up a bloodied Buday for the duration of the round, Gaziev came within only a couple of strikes dispatching of his opponent at the end of the first round.
It was much of the same the second the bell for the second stanza ran and Gaziev needed just under a minute to finish the contest.