Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight veterans Ben Rothwell and Brandon Vera had a lot on the line last night (Aug. 31, 2013) when they faced off on the pay-per-view (PPV) main card of UFC 164 from BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Their jobs may have been in jeopardy, so it was time to sink or swim for the experienced strikers. Vera, once the UFC's hottest prospect, made a return to his original weight class of Heavyweight to hook ‘em up with Wisconsin native Rothwell. The larger Rothwell delivered for his home crowd, earning a TKO stoppage to stay relevant in the UFC's highest division.
Let's break down how Rothwell sent Vera further into obscurity with an impressive victory in "Beer City."
Vera had been fighting at Light Heavyweight, so he understandably came in looking to utilize his advantages in speed and agility. It was working early for Vera, who scored with crisp punches and kicks. However, Rothwell ate Vera's best shots and kept stalking "Truth" down, a bad sign of things to come.
The second round saw the fighters trade back-and-forth strikes throughout, with "Big Ben" turning it on late, possibly winning him the round. In the last frame, Rothwell appeared to be visibly tired with Vera's elusive tactics, seemingly mocking him by dancing around the Octagon. Rothwell then unleashed a furious string of punches that dazed Vera, adding more damage to the combo with vicious knees.
It was all Vera could handle and then some, resulting in his second straight technical knockout loss.
After the fight, Rothwell took to the mic to call out the surging Travis Browne. "Hapa," most recently seen knocking Alistair Overeem out with a deadly front kick at UFC Fight 26 in Boston, Mass., will most likely look for a top-ranked fighter to solidify his chances at a title shot. A bout against Rothwell would be exciting, but wouldn't prove much about Browne that we don't already know.
Although Rothwell may not get that fight, he can play the spoiler to many Heavyweights in the UFC, making him a great gatekeeper. He's worked on his conditioning and diet as of late, and he looked like he was in considerably better shape last night.
If Rothwell puts together a couple more knockout wins in a row, he could become a surprise contender. It's more likely that he faces Overeem rather than Browne, and that could be an interesting matchup. Frank Mir could also use a slight step down in competition after his loss to Josh Barnett last night.
Vera, on the other hand, may be receiving his walking papers. His track record isn't exactly stellar the past few years, and he appears to becoming susceptible to striking stoppages. The move back up to Heavyweight appeared to give him a speed advantage, but obviously his power was nonexistent against the larger Rothwell. There are just not too many good match ups for Vera at Heavyweight.
It's too bad, but it appears that "The Truth" must be honest with himself.
Ben Rothwell put forth a good showing at UFC 164. Does he deserve to fight Travis Browne n his next trip to the Octagon?