Ben Rothwell was never really in this UFC Fight Night 86 headliner in Zagreb, Croatia as a reinvigorated Junior dos Santos picked him apart with superior striking and movement from start to finish to earn a unanimous decision victory.
The main event of the evening is underway. Rothwell feeling out with a couple of low kicks to start. Dos Santos with a punch.
Dos Santos looks for a body punch. Doesn’t connect the first time, but he goes back to it soon after and lands solidly. Both men exchange and Dos Santos landed with a hard right, but Rothwell seemed to clip him near his left eye too.
Rothwell looks tot unload wih punches as Dos Santos backs up. Dos Santos gets away from the cage and out of danger for now.
Rothwell coming in aggressievly again and gets caught with a counter, but doesn’t flinch. Overhand right for Rothwell and tries to press the Brazilian up against the cage, but ‘Cigano’ moves away. He keeps moving forward and lands another overhand. Dos Santos with one of his own.
Exchange in close near the cage initiated by Rothwell. Dos Santos to the body. Rothwell mauls forward again. Dos Santos lands a few body shots. He keeps going for that, darting in, landing to the mid-section, then back out. Perhaps half a dozen in total. And another one connects just as the round comes to a close.
Dos Santos light on his feet on the outside, but looking for the perfect moment to strike. Both men throw their rights at the same time and miss. Rothwell loses his balance a bit, but he wasn’t hurt.
Rothwell tries a head kick, but misses. Dos Santos back to the body shots again. Straight right for JDS too. Good body kick and a punch for Rothwell. Little combo from Dos Santos. Body punch again.
Overhand for Dos Santos doesn’t land cleanly. Two body punches from him comes next. Dos Santos suddenly lands a hard, clean overhand right. Rothwell definitely felt that one and looks a little dazed as Dos Santos follows up with a powerful front kick to the chest that sents his opponent falling backwards across the Octagon. Luckily for Rothwell that’s just when the bell sounds.
JDS with lots of confidence now, but still taking his time. Solid shot to the body for him. One-two for JDS and stumbles slightly as he makes his exit.
Rothwell tentative with a leg kick. He tries to go upstairs with one, but it’s not effective. JDS punches to the body and Rothwell charges in with strikes in return.
Body work for JDS continues and Rothwell hasn’t really found a way to counter it. Having said that he does land a nice right hook there.
jab lands for Rothwell, but Dos Santos lands a punch to the head and a few solid strikes to the bread basket. Now a left hook connects. Hard straight right. And another.
Rothwell struggling to deal with JDS superior speed and movement here. Spinning kick to the body for ‘Cigano’. Good right hand. Another spinning body kick.
All Dos Santos in this round and much more his old self than we’ve seen in his recent fights, but Rothwell could still be a threat if he can land something big.
Rothwell’s right eye is swollen and bruised heading into the fourth. Left hook for JDS. Rothwell tries to charge into a counter that doesn’t quite pay off.
Side kick to the body for Rothwell and JDS returns with one of his own. nice stuff from the former champ – he’s mimiced whatever Rothwell has done several times in this fight. Rothwell tries to come in and eats a right hand.
A left hook connects for Dos Santos. A jab. A body shot. Back to the left hook. Rothwell presses forward with more urgency, but doesn’t unload.
Stiff jab from Dos Santos. Powerful right hand from Rothwell clubs his opponent, then tries to kick upstairs. He needs a lot more like that.
More jabs to the face from JDS and Rothwell’s nose is red with blood. Rothwell runs forward, but his two-punch combo comes up short. One-two for JDS. He seems to be enjoying himself out there. He connects hard with the left and right.
Rothwell finds a home for a left hand. Dos Santos quickly away. Really good cardio from the Brazilian in this fight, still light on his feet. Rothwell lands a good kick across the legs as the round ends.
Rothwell needs to do something big in this round. Rothwell with a right hand that just grazes JDS’s head. Nice straight jab from Dos Santos. Body shot and then that jab again. More body work. The flicking jab. Constant movement from ‘Cigano’ as he picks his shots.
JDS using his jab a lot too good effect as he keeps Rothwell at bay. Grazes Rothwell with a knee too.
Continual work off the jab to the head and body. A real lack of ideas coming in response from Rothwell. Rothwell finally landing a left hand, but it’s a bit sloppy and bundles head first into the cage afterwards.
Overhand right for JDS. Spinning head kick attempt from JDS, but Rothwell had stepped in so it didn’t land as cleanly as he’d hoped.
Front kick to the body for JDS doesn’t quite land. Head kick from Rothwell misses. Rothwell marauding forward, but the final bell sounds.
Classy performance from Dos Santos in this fight as he outstruck Rothwell for the duration of this 25 minute encounter on his way to a unanimous decision victory (50-45 x3).