In sports, it’s said you are as good as your last performance.
Let’s see; Junior dos Santos’ last performance resulted in him being on the receiving end of a second round knockout, courtesy of Alistair Overeem, while Ben Rothwell did the unthinkable; giving former Strikeforce and Pride heavyweight champion Josh Barnett the first submission loss of his career.
Based on those results, where Rothwell capped of a four-fight winning streak, and dos Santos losing the second fight of his last four, I was fully subscribed to the aforementioned notion.
Here’s what I say about what “they say”…don’t buy into everything “they say”.
In the carnage that Rothwell left behind in the form of his four-fight winning streak over Barnett, Matt Mitrione, Alistair Overeem, in that descending order, I got distracted. In dos Santos’ wavering path (win-loss-win-loss) of of the same stretch, I suspected that Brazilian was puttering into irrelevance.
Boy was I off on this one!
From the get-go, dos Santos reminded everyone in observance why he is a former UFC heavyweight champion. Many, including myself, forgot how heavy his hands are. We forgot abotuthe accuracy that accompanies the heaviness of said hands. What really left fight fans in awe was his nimbleness around and throughout the octagon.
To Rothwell’s credit, his chin is made of granite. Now many can take the shots fired by JDS and stick around long enough for the verdict to fall into the judges hands. Still, even with the pendulum swinging in Dos Santos’ favor, Rothwell missed, in my eyes, a major opportunity to to keep his streak alive.
As mobile and accurate as the former UFC heavyweight king was, he left himself vulnerable on numerous occasions. Junior dos Santos left his lead leg exposed for striking, but for whatever reason, Rothwell was more hung up on landing homerun his with his fists, than systematically breaking the faster Brazilian.
While I’m the furthest thing from a mixed martial arts trainer, I think I have enough wherewithal to see that Rothwell should’ve popped dos Santos’ lead leg with leg kick profusely, in order to slow him down, and from there, get dos Santos in the clinch and land the bombs that met the air the majority of the night. The shots that Rothwell onto dos Santos’ lead leg were far and between, with only one being the Wisconsinite’s best strike of the night, that resulted in discoloration in said leg.
At the rate of dos Santos’ performance this past weekend, he will once again be in position to vie for a second title reign. Rothwell, on the other hand, can also get himself into an inaugural title shot, if he learns to take the opportunities that glaringly present themselves.
Nonetheless, the fight was entertaining, but dos Santos walked away with a much needed win, securing a unanimous decision.
Up next, UFC Fight Night Tampa, Saturday, April 16th at 8pm, where the main event features two, top-10 light heavyweight, #4 Glover Texiera vs. “Suga” Rashad Evans.
Written by Antoine Hoffman