Two heavy-hitting veterans too center stage last night (Jan. 19, 2013) as former heavyweight title challenger Gabriel Gonzaga battled ex-IFL champion Ben Rothwell on the UFC on FX 7 main card in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Gonzaga had been released from the UFC two and a half years ago, but after returning to the promotion and going back to his grappling roots, he was seeking his first three fight winning streak since he earned a shot at the championship.
Rothwell, on the other hand, was looking to push his UFC record over .500 for the first time in his near four year career with the promotion.
Early on, Gonzaga pushed the pace, working for takedowns and pressing Rothwell against the fence. "Napao" was able to put Rothwell on his back repeatedly, but he couldn't keep him there as the veteran was able to work his way back to his feet (with a bit of help from grabbing the fence).
By the midway point of the first round, Rothwell was already slowing down and surprisingly, Gonzaga began to find a home for his punches, particularly his right hand.
In the second round, Gonzaga kept the pressure up and Rothwell looked almost completely out of it. After a pair of solid right hands connected again, he shot in for a takedown in the cage center. Rothwell stuffed the attempt, but left his neck exposed, which "Napao" latched onto.
After taking a good look at the big screens around the arena, Gonzaga saw he had the hold latched on properly and he went for it, pulling guard and squeezing on Rothwell's neck until the "Northstar" was forced to tap out.
For Ben Rothwell, he never got to get anything going. He has been very hit and miss throughout his UFC career and this was one of the "misses." He looked sluggish and never got any significant offense in, choosing to attempt to counter rather than taking the initiative and trying to put some hurt on the former title challenger. By about the fifth takedown attempt he had gotten back to his feet from, he was spent and there wasn't going to be enough zip on his punches to knock Gonzaga out even if he wanted to. He had nothing left to fend off the submission by the time "Napao" latched on the guillotine.
Rothwell still serves a purpose in the heavyweight division so there's plenty of potential fights available for him like Dave Herman (once his suspension is up), Matt Mitrione or perhaps Stipe Miocic.
For Gabriel Gonzaga, it looks like he's finally recovered from falling in love with kickboxing after the Mirko Filipovic knockout. He's now submitted three straight opponents and he really did a good job of utilizing his offensive grappling to wear Rothwell down and take away his offensive weapons. Rothwell was able to get up from each takedown attempt in the first round, but it took so much out of his gas tank, that he was no longer a threat on the feet and it opened up "Napao's" striking. When he saw an opportunity to finish the fight with a guillotine choke, he jumped on it, literally.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Did you expect Gonzaga to pull off a submission in front of his hometown fans? What do you make of his resurgence in the heavyweight division?