Ben Rothwell’s UFC debut did not go as planned.
Before his UFC 104 fight with Cain Velasquez, a confident Rothwell promised a knockout victory, and said that he had been waiting 10 years to make his debut.
Flash forward to the fight, where Velasquez dominated Rothwell with an overwhelming wrestling attack and an eventual TKO finish. And while many complained that the stoppage was early, there was little doubt to those watching that Velasquez was thoroughly dominating the bout.
But now, the heavy-handed IFL veteran will get another chance at a UFC victory when he faces Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic at UFC 110. In many ways, this is the perfect style matchup for Rothwell.
For one, “Cro Cop” poses virtually no threat on the ground. Rothwell showed suspect takedown defense against Velasquez, and facing a fighter like “Cro Cop” will allow him to do what he does best, load up and throw hard.
More importantly, the “Cro Cop” that Rothwell will face on Saturday is not the “Cro Cop” of years past. His performance against Junior dos Santos was a clear indicator that the limited skill set that he has succeeded with for so many years may not be enough anymore. Any time a loss has you questioning whether or not you can still compete in this sport, your best days are behind you.
In short, this appears to be Rothwell’s fight to lose. In a fight that will basically be a kickboxing match, Rothwell should be able to use his strikes effectively in much the same way that dos Santos did. In the ‘what have you done for me lately’ fight game today, a win will give Rothwell a boost in the heavyweight division. A loss, and that debut that he waited 10 long years for could be over in a far shorter time span.