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Ben Rothwell vs. Junior Dos Santos Booked For Fight Night 86 in Croatia


(No no no, Ben. You’re supposed to kick dirt *in* your opponent’s face, you silly goose.via Getty)

Ben Rothwell has been enjoying quite the little career resurgence in recent years. After starting his UFC career off a mediocre 2-2, “Big Ben” has been running roughshod over every heavyweight he’s faced in the past three years. Even more impressive than the wins themselves has been the ways in which Rothwell has been finishing his opponents, which include a knockout win over former K1 champion Alistair Overeem and most recently, a submission of the previously unsubmittable Josh Barnett at UFC on FOX 18.

What Rothwell has yet to capture, however, is that one big win that immediately places him in the title picture — a Johny Hendricks to his Wonderboy Thompson, if you will. With the heavyweight division being thrown into a constant state of chaos thanks to Cain Velasquez, the Wisconsinan’s options were limited to essentially two fighters: Stipe Miocic and Junior Dos Santos.

As it just so happens, Rothwell was booked against one of those two guys late last night, so if you’re not the type of person who reads headlines, head after the jump to find out which.

Unfortunately for Rothwell, Miocic is currently trapped in something of a title shot purgatory; the Cleveland native received a last-minute title shot against Werdum following Velasquez’s withdrawal from UFC 196 last month, only to have it ripped away from him when Werdum subsequently withdrew from the fight. Despite this, Miocic has been hinting at a potential fight with Werdum in May¬†recently, dependent on how Velasquez recovers from his latest surgery.

So with Miocic off the table, a matchup with the former heavyweight champion was really all that was left for Rothwell, and for once, the UFC was able to give “Big Ben” exactly what he wanted. (via Rothwell’s Facebook):

Considering that Dos Santos is coming off a loss to Alistair Overeem, another recent victim of Rothwell’s, fans were quick to criticize this booking as “not making any sense.” Rothwell, on the other hand, was quick to dismiss these notions in an interview with MMAFighting.

“Look at it this way: waiting 10 months is really the [other] option,” said Rothwell. “No. Because, Alistair Overeem, even though we already fought, is a top guy. Top guys are top guys, and he’s injured or he’s dealing with things. He says it’s a shoulder. Andrei Arlovski, same thing. He said it’s a shoulder. Cain Velasquez, everybody knows. It’s documented. Cain, back injury.”

“Travis Browne was, I guess from everything I’m hearing, supposed to take this fight (against dos Santos). It was a lock. Then things were said, or something happened, and he said that his foot was too injured. So all four of the top guys [are out], and then the other two (Stipe Miocic and Fabricio Werdum), obviously common sense will say something is happening there. So, that leaves Junior.”

In a world where heavyweights are going down left and right, one cornfed, soft-shoeing sonofabitch stands alone, it would seem. On April 10th, the ultimate battle of good and evil will be held in Croatia, so start placing your bets, Nation.

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