Jairzinho Rozenstruik wants an interim heavyweight title on the line for his fight against Francis Ngannou

Jairzinho Rozenstruik wants an interim heavyweight title on the line for his fight against Francis Ngannou

Jairzinho Rozenstruik wanted to become UFC heavyweight champion this year, but the prospects of an undisputed title shot are looking less and less likely with each passing day.

Prior to his originally scheduled date to face Francis Ngannou back in March, the undefeated knockout artist had hoped to get a win and then face the heavyweight champion sometime this summer.

Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic has thrown the entire UFC schedule into upheaval, although Rozenstruik is still expected to meet Ngannou on May 9. Meanwhile, heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic is still recovering from eye surgery, and even when he’s ready to fight again, he’s expected to face Daniel Cormier in a trilogy sometime later this year.

That means even if Rozenstruik can get past Ngannou, he’s still going to be sitting and waiting on the sidelines just hoping his opportunity to fight for the belt will come. That’s why he has an idea to get the division moving while all of the top ranked heavyweights are waiting for Miocic to face Cormier for a third time.

“My idea for the heavyweight division because of the situation, no disrespect to the champ [Stipe Miocic] and [Daniel] Cormier, but the decision is it’s held up,” Rozenstruik said when speaking to MMA Fighting. “My idea was let us fight for an interim title, and I think the heavyweight division needs that.

“We can move on. When the champ is done, we can go again. That’s my idea.”

While he was originally scheduled as a main event, Rozenstruik is now facing Ngannou in a three-round fight as part of the May 9 card that already features three titles going up for grabs.

If the UFC wanted to add a fourth, Rozenstruik is more than happy to face Ngannou in a five-round fight to crown a new interim heavyweight champion.

“Absolutely 100 percent,” Rozenstruik answered when asked if he’d be ready for a title fight on May 9.

“I hope it settles itself fast. I hope the champ is back fast but if not, the UFC has to consider what’s going to happen. I think the heavyweight division needs that to move on.”

Nothing has been ideal for Rozenstruik or Ngannou after they were originally supposed to meet on March 28 before the fight was then moved to April 18. That card also got postponed and now the heavyweights are scheduled to clash on May 9.

Training camps have obviously been disrupted, especially in the wake of stay-at-home orders being issued in most states.

Despite all the issues plaguing fighters these days, Rozenstruik says his routine has been kept relatively the same thanks to his coaches and training partners out of American Top Team in Florida.

“My training is good. It doesn’t affect my training at all,” Rozenstruik said. “I was ready. I’m ready to fight. We had to slow the pace a little bit but as soon as we had the date, we just squeeze it a little bit up and we’re ready again. Nothing affected my training.”

Because he’s been training non-stop for more than two months coupled with the fact that he was already preparing for a five-round fight previously, Rozenstruik welcomes the chance to compete for a title even if it’s technically on short notice.

“It doesn’t matter. It’s still the same,” Rozenstruik said. “I always prepare myself for five rounds. I always make sure I finish my fight early. Everything is the same, nothing changed.”

Three rounds or five rounds, Rozenstruik is ready for either one but he doesn’t expect to need the extra time with plans to send Ngannou packing early.

“I’m more than ready. I’m ready to go,” Rozenstruik said. “As soon as I get the call, I got the date, it’s a matter of time before it happens. Same prediction, nothing changes. It’s still the same fight.

“Five rounds or three rounds — I’m looking for the first or second round to get him out of there.”

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