Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight sluggers Ben Rothwell and Ovince Saint Preux will battle this Wednesday (May 13, 2020) from inside VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida.
In truth, things have largely not been going well for Rothwell, a professional veteran of nearly 20 years now. Since his return from a United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) suspension in 2019 (details), Rothwell was bloodied and pummeled twice. He appeared to be on his way to a third straight loss against Stefan Struve, before strange circumstances and illegal low blows contributed to a come-from-behind knockout win.
Saint Preux has not been flying particularly high either, having split his last four bouts evenly between wins and losses. There is a silver lining for “OSP,” however, as his two victories did come opposite solid prospects. This will be his first outing at Heavyweight, which adds an extra bit of intrigue to the match up.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Alistair Overeem (UFC Fight Night 50), Josh Barnett (UFC on FOX 18), Matt Mitrione (UFC Fight Night 58), Stefan Struve (UFC on ESPN 7)
Key Losses: Junior dos Santos (UFC Fight Night 86), Blagoy Ivanov (UFC Fight Night 146), Andrei Arlovski (UFC on ESPN 4)
Keys to Victory: Rothwell has been awkward and dangerous for a very long time. He moves strangely, shifting his head off to the side and often approaching his foes from a nearly square stance. It all hides how powerful and suddenly quick “Big Ben” can be, which is how he’s managed 28 knockout wins.
If we’re being honest, Saint Preux hasn’t accomplished much on his feet in his last five fights. To be even more frank, he’s been getting socked up by everyone who even tries to punch him in the face — his only recent wins come via submission after getting rocked earlier in the fight.
Rothwell appears diminished at this point in his career, but he still hits real hard. As such, he’d be best advised to attack and close distance from the first bell, really put a pace on an unusually heavy “OSP.” Rothwell might eat shots, but he’ll land too, which will likely lead to another knockout or Rothwell’s gnarly front choke.
Ovince Saint Preux
Key Wins: Mauricio Rua (UFC Fight Night 56), Corey Anderson (UFC 217), Tyson Pedro (UFC Fight Night 132), Michal Oleksiejczuk (UFC Fight Night 160), Patrick Cummins (UFC on FOX 15)
Key Losses: Ilir Latifi (UFC on FOX 28), Nikita Krylov (UFC 236), Jimi Manuwa (UFC 204), Volkan Oezdemir (UFC Fight Night 104), Glover Teixeira (UFC Fight Night 73)
Keys to Victory: “OSP” is a fighter with some insanely dangerous weapons in his arsenal. His kicks land with a remarkable thud, making standing at distance with Saint Preux a miserable task. While he’s been out-wrestled in the past, Saint Preux is capable in that area, and his jiu-jitsu is uniquely brutal.
There will never be another fighter to land four Von Flue chokes in UFC.
Saint Preux might just shine in this match up. Rothwell has looked especially hittable in recent fights, lumbering forward into his opponent’s strikes and unable to land after getting blasted. Saint Preux should have a significant speed advantage, which would help him stay long and evasive.
Really, “OSP’s” brutal snap kick might be the deciding factor. Saint Preux is unlikely to be able to avoid the brawl for the full 15 minutes, but if he’s able to stab Rothwell’s square stance and convince Rothwell to avoid pressuring? He’s in for an easy night of work.
Both of these athletes have won their last bout, but they could really use consecutive victories.
Rothwell is nearly 40 years old with almost 50 professional fights to his name. Based on his recent struggles, it’s really not a stretch to speculate about the veteran’s retirement. Fortunately for “Big Ben,” this is the Heavyweight division. One strong performance to dismiss “OSP” from the Heavyweight ranks will go a long way in proving Rothwell is here to stay for at least another couple years.
Shockingly, Saint Preux is just a year younger than Rothwell at 37, and he’s nearly at 40 fights himself! His strong recent wins over Oleksiejczuk and Pedro definitely keep “OSP” safe from threats of release, but it’s also hard to deny that he appears to be fading and taking damage in the process. Heavyweight could be the answer to extending his career and improving performances, and this performance should shed some light on that possibility.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Jacksonville fight card on fight night, starting with the ESPN+ “Prelims” undercard bouts at 6 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN+ main card start time at 9 p.m. ET.
For much more on tomorrow night’s Jacksonville event click here.
At UFC on ESPN 9, Ben Rothwell and Ovince Saint Preux will scrap in the co-main event. Which man will have his hand raised?