Bigi Boy: The kickboxing career of Jairzinho Rozenstruik

Ten wins, no losses, no draws. A fantastic Mixed Martial Arts record, but what does it tell us? Not much really. Especially when seven of those wins came by way of first-round knockout.

Seventy-six wins, eight losses, and a draw. Now that’s a resumé that we can work with. Hours of ring time, years of experience.

It seems Jairzinho Rozenstruik is still considered an oddity in MMA. Even in his five-round affair with Alistair Overeem, in which he knocked ‘The Reem’ out seconds before he was about to lose the fight on the scorecards, all we learnt is that Rozenstruik is tough, and he hits like a truck.

If you look at his kickboxing career though, you see some traits that cross over. His left hook has flattened many in the Dutch heavyweight kickboxing circuit, and we’ve seen him use it against Andrei Arlovski. He used his high kick to stop Junior Albini, a high kick he’d use at the end of flurries of hooks in his K-1 days.

While it can help pick out tendencies, kickboxing is a very different sport to MMA, there are big gloves that you can hide behind while big blows are coming your way, and there’s also no grappling.

Some fighters who fight one way in kickboxing, fight completely differently when they transition to Mixed Martial Arts too, such as Volkan Oezdemir a very high pace, meat and potatoes striker who transitioned to MMA and became a one-shot knockout artist.

Then you have Izzy Adesanya, who’s a defensively slick and accurate style of striking translated to MMA perfectly, eventually winning Adasanya the UFC Middleweight strap.

So where would Jairzinho Rozenstruik fit into this equation? Closer to the Adasanya archetype. His style hasn’t changed too much, big hands and frightening low kicks; they’re still there. The flying knee he used to split his opponents’ guard hasn’t been used as much in MMA, which is understandable as if performed wrong, you’re basically offering a free takedown to your opponent.

It’s also apparent that Rozenstruik’s striking throughout both his kickboxing and his Mixed Martial Arts career has never been overly flashy. He throws big hands, he kicks thighs like he’s trying to snap a leg in half and, especially in his kickboxing career, he’s surprisingly high paced for such a big guy.

We can still learn things about him as a fighter, besides the punches, the kicks and the knees he threw throughout his kickboxing career.

A Loss:

It’s always interesting to see how an undefeated fighter deals with a loss and also what beats them, with Rozenstruik this isn’t quite the case as we have seen him lose before. Most notably he was beaten by Glory fighter Michael Duut back in 2011 under Muay Thai rules. Duut was able to stop Rozenstruik from getting his game going by simply denying him any opportunity to close the distance. Duut used long one-two’s and a lead left kick to score while keeping out of the powerful “Bigi Boy’s” path, a game plan that say, Alexander Volkov could attempt to use against him. As far as his response to a loss, he was clearly disappointed, but no tantrums or complaints towards the judges. He took his loss against a quality opponent on the chin and as you will see, he moved forward.

A Rebound:

After that loss, he came back against an undefeated fighter, Benjamin Adegbuyi, who somehow dwarfed Bigi Boy at six foot six. The fight started similarly to the last one, Rozenstruik allowed his opponent to take the initiative, thumping in a big jab every now and then. In the second round however, he came out throwing combinations with intent. Jab-crosses-liver shots and tying his combos up with quick, snappy kicks. The bigger Adegbuyi was dealing with the pressure well and moved forward through Rozenstruik’s volume striking, he seemed to be unfazed until he walked right into a right hand followed by a massive left hook. Out cold. The “Bigi Boy” was back in the winning column.

A World Title Fight:

Following his rebound, Rozenstruik was offered a Muay Thai world title fight against Jan Siersema. Its quite clear that he was ready to rise to the occasion as he walked out with a custom song and a pack of pit bulls. Rozenstruik looked great, putting together combinations from the get-go, again throwing flurries of hands followed by surprisingly quick high kicks for such a big guy, Siersema was throwing with high volume too and it was back and forth Dutch-style action right until the final minute of the final round where Rozenstruik got his opponent into the corner, unloading shots and following up with a perfect head kick. Siersema acted unfazed, beckoning on the “Bigi Boy” while circling out to the centre of the ring, maybe not a great idea as Rozenstruik landed a big right hand, flooring Siersema and although he got up and beat the count, likely swaying the fight, that had been too close to call up until that point, in Rozenstruik’s favour. He earned his world title and would go on to win three more before switching over to MMA.

While his kickboxing career was after the fall of K-1 and before the rise of Glory, he still experienced the highest highs and the lowest lows, much like Israel Adesanya. That’s a dangerous thing to be taking into the upper echelons of the UFC, especially with the momentum and confidence of an undefeated Mixed Martial Artist.

Rozenstruik’s kickboxing career teaches us that he has what it takes to be a world champion in the UFC as long as his skills continue to translate to MMA and his takedown defence keeps on improving. After all, in the heavyweight division, it takes just one shot to put down almost anyone, and he has big shots in abundance.

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