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Reinforce the cage because heavyweights take center stage this weekend. Jairzinho Rozenstruik vs. Shamil Gaziev headlines UFC Fight Night from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas on Saturday.

Rozenstruik (13-5) had a lot of hype in the first half of his career. He scored a Hail Mary knockout of Alistar Overeem with four seconds left in Rozenstruik's first main event, improving to 10-0 with a 90% knockout rate. It went downhill from there as Rozenstruik was stopped by Francis Ngannou in just 20 seconds, starting a rough 3-5 stretch for the Surinamese striker. Most recently, Rozenstruik was submitted by grappling dynamo Jailton Almeida in one round. Rozenstruik blames his activity level -- averaging a fight every three months from 2019 to 2023 -- for stunting his development. Nine months after his last fight, Rozenstruik is ready to steady course.

"[My layoff was] definitely relaxing and focusing on my skillset..." Rozenstruik said at the UFC Fight Night media day on Wednesday. "I feel like in my UFC career I made a couple of mistakes, a couple of missteps. I gave away a little bit of my power. So I'm focusing on getting all the puzzle pieces together. I'm finding the puzzle pieces already, so I already feel my real power again."

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Gaziev (12-0) has followed a similar path as Rozenstruik to this point in his career. The Bahraini fighter competes in his first main event following consecutive stoppages on "Dana White's Contender Series" and his UFC debut in December. It's a big step up in competition and exposure for a fighter not well-known to the wider fanbase. Gaziev's main event slot can be credited to a few factors: UFC's busy event calendar, the trend of lower-quality UFC Apex cards and a lack of depth at heavyweight. Gaziev seems more well-rounded than Rozenstruik, but it'll be interesting to see how he fairs on the feet against the 85-fight kickboxing veteran.

"I think the UFC needs new blood in our division and they gave me this chance to show that I'm ready to make a statement against ranked guys," Gaziev told CBS Sports. "This is exactly what I'm planning to do.

"I am at the peak of my career and I think my opponent has already passed this peak."

The main card is slim pickings but there are a few fighters fans will want to look for. Umar Nurmagomedov (16-0) has been dubbed the next big thing at bantamweight. The cousin of former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov was scheduled to fight top-ranked bantamweight Cory Sandhagen last August before suffering an injury. He takes on a relatively unknown commodity in Bezkat Almakhan, someone you should keep an eye on down the line. Almakhan is 17-1 with an 88% finish rate and should be backed by loyal Kazakh fans, much like his countryman Shavkat Rakmonov.

Muhammad Mokaev looks to climb the flyweight ranks by beating Alex Perez, Mat Schnell vs. Steve Ercerg should be an exciting 125-pound fight and Tyson Pedro returns in the co-main event against Vitor Petrino. 

Mokaev believes a win on Saturday night could put him in title contention at flyweight.

"My DMs were full after Brandon Royval vs. Brandon Moreno," Mokaev said during media day this week. "Everyone was like, 'Go after fight with Pantoja.' I have trained with Pantoja after my debut and I haven't seen anything special in him, like he has priority in skill advantage. This [week] he actually said that he would like to fight me instead of Brandon Royval."

Below is the rest of the fight card for Saturday with the latest odds before we get to a prediction and pick on the main event.

UFC Fight Night card, odds

Weight class
Shamil Gaziev -166
Jairzinho Rozenstruik +140
Vitor Petrino -305
Tyson Pedro +245Light heavyweight
Muhammad Mokaev -355
Alex Perez +280Flyweight
Umar Nurmagomedov -1200
Bekzat Almakhan +750Bantamweight
Steve Erceg -410 Matt Schnell +320Flyweight

UFC Fight Night viewing information

Date: March 2 | Start time: 4 p.m. ET (main card)
Location: UFC Apex -- Las Vegas
TV channel: ESPN+


Jairzinho Rozenstruik vs. Shamil Gaziev: Gaziev may be a new commodity in the UFC but do not mistake him for a young upstart. Gaziev is one year younger than Rozenstruik. In a division where fighters age later, I don't suspect this fight will be a case of new blood taking over. Rozenstruik's days as a prospective title challenger are over, but he's far more experienced than Gaziev. It's easy to forget that all of Rozenstruik's losses have come to elite fighters. Ngannou, Ciryl Gane, Curtis Blaydes, Alexander Volkov and Jailton Almeida are all fighters who have won UFC titles or hovered near contention. There is simply not enough high-level tape on Gaziev to give him a fair shake. If Rozenstruik truly has clogged some of his defensive wrestling gaps, he should be able to manage the distance and land a finishing blow. Rozenstruik via TKO2

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