All the momentum that Ben Rothwelll (36-10) was riding came to an end in the main event at UFC Fight Night 86 earlier this afternoon (Sun., April 10, 2016). Junior dos Santos (18-4) defeated Rothwell via unanimous decision inside Arena Zagreb in Zagreb, Croatia after putting on a five-round striking clinic.
All three judges scored the bout 50-45.
"Cigano" had a fantastic game plan and outclassed Rothwell badly over the course of 25 minutes. He landed whatever and whenever he wanted to and looked outstanding doing so using his greatest tool: his boxing.
"I used my footwork to move a lot and throw some hard punches on him and use my boxing, because guys... Forget about jiu-jitsu and wrestling I'm a boxing guy," dos Santos told Jon Anik after the bout.
Both fighters circled and measured their distance for the opening two minutes of the bout and barely exchanged any punches. Rothwell tried to clinch up, but dos Santos avoided it and continued to circle. "Big Ben" charged in on several occasions but came up empty as did "Cigano" when he attempted to counter. The former UFC Heavyweight champion landed several solid punches to the body as the round came to a close. Neither landed any significant strikes in the round.
Dos Santos missed a big overhand right to begin the second round, but Rothwell ducked underneath it. The No. 4-ranked UFC Heavyweight landed an outside low kick, but it did not hinder the movement of dos Santos. The Brazilian began to land punches with more success as the round wore on. dos Santos got poked in the eye by Rothwell and referee Marc Goddard halted the bout to allow dos Santos to recover. As the round drew to a close, the No.5-ranked UFC heavyweight landed a big right hand that stunned Rothwell. He followed it up with a push kick that sent "Big Ben" to the canvas right before the horn sounded.
Dos Santos went back to the body to start the third round and continued to have great success whenever he did. "Cigano" began to find a nice rhythm and also started to find a home for a few of his jabs and also, a pair of spinning-back kicks to the body while continuing his assault on Rothwell's body.
In the fourth round dos Santos began to go upstairs with his strikes and he landed with regularity. Rothwell had no answer and was getting badly tuned up on the feet. The Washington native did attempt to attack on a few occasions and landed a nice right hand, but it was all dos Santos for the majority of the round.
It was more of the same in the final round as dos Santos was just landing at will with his jab to both the head and the body of Rothwell, whose face was battered and bloody from absorbing a 25 minute cumulation of punches.
It was a phenomenal performance by dos Santos, 32, who returned to form after getting knocked out Alistair Overeem his last time out in Dec. 2015. Dos Santos is now 12-3 in UFC competition. Meanwhile, it was a tough loss for Rothwell, 34, who has his four-fight win streak snapped and got badly outclassed in the process. He falls to 6-4 in UFC.
For complete UFC Fight Night 86 "Rothwell vs. dos Santos results, including play-by-play updates, click here.