Alistair Overeem and Ben Rothwell are heavyweights that have struggled to find any sort of momentum during their UFC tenures. Overeem has been in the UFC for three years, has a .500 record, and has had issues with testosterone and drug testing. Rothwell has been in the UFC for five years, has a .500 record, and has had issues with testosterone and drug testing.
That’s what the two were faced with heading into Friday night’s UFC Fight Night 50 co-main event at the Foxwoods Casino Resort in Connecticut.
In short, Overeem, 34, and Rothwell, 32, each needed to find the path towards the UFC heavyweight championship, and needed to do it sooner, not later.
Although the way he lumbered out to the center of the Octagon didn’t give any indication that Rothwell would be the one to heed the “sooner, not later” advice, he was the one to overcome a slow start to capture back-to-back victories for the first time in the Octagon.
Overeem made no secret coming into the fight that he wanted to stay away from Rothwell’s overhand right, and that’s just what he did from the opening bell. He darted in and out on Rothwell, landing knees and powerful kicks to the body.
Rothwell, however, was mostly unfazed. He kept lumbering forward, trying to get in closer on “The Reem.” He stunned Overeem with an uppercut, but the Dutch fighter recovered and went back to attacking from a distance with his kicks.
Overeem slipped up, however, trying to throw an arcing left hook. Rothwell took advantage, landing his patented overhand right to the temple, sending Overeem crashing to the mat.
Rothwell followed him to the mat and landed several right hands that forced the referee to step in and stop the fight.
“I’m feeling like you just witnessed, everyone, what happens when you just believe in yourself. And now I’m ready to make my way to the title. This just proves it, right here,” said Rothwell, who was riding an emotional high after the fight, feeling like he’s done a 180-degree turn with his career.
“That was me being confident from that last round of my last fight and it just stayed with me into this fight,” he continued. “Anything can happen in MMA and I’m a living life story of that.”
(Follow @KenPishna on Twitter)