Ben Rothwell vs. Junior dos Santos:
It seems that it’s becoming increasingly clear that the UFC will do what they can to stop Ben Rothwell from getting a heavyweight title shot, as they’ve matched him up against another former champion despite four straight finishes over names like Josh Barnett and Alistair Overeem. While dos Santos is past his prime days as one of the most powerful strikers in the UFC, I still think he has enough left in the gas tank to pull off the upset n Croatia, however. For all his recent success, Rothwell can be a bit slow and plodding standing, and he has been knocked out four times. That could play right into the boxing-centric strategy of ‘Cigano’ My pick is dos Santos via R1 knockout.
Former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos looked flat in his latest bout with Alistair Overeem, whereas his UFC Zagreb opponent Ben Rothwell has looked a renewed man in his most recent outings. Where this fight is won is on the ground for Rothwell, and on the feet for ‘Cigano.’ Although ‘Big Ben’ has some jaw crunching power in his strikes, I just don’t see him landing on a technical boxer like dos Santos, even on his worst day. Will Rothwell go in for the takedown and look to dominate on the ground? He really should, but I’m not sure he’ll get the chance. This is purely a gut pick, but I’m going with JDS by first round KO.
Former champ dos Santos has obviously endured a tremendous amount of damage throughout his career, and is coming off of a brutal TKO loss. Rothwell, on the other hand, has been riding a hot streak as of late, scoring four consecutive victories all by way of stoppage. He’s shown solid power, as well as an elite level submission game. At the end of the day, with all things considered, I still rank ‘JDS’ amongst the best heavyweights in the world. Dos Santos by third round TKO.
Derrick Lewis vs. Gabriel Gonzaga:
The co-main event for the UFC’s Croatian debut has the potential for some exciting action, and there’s little doubt that it will end quite some time before the final bell sounds. Lewis has won five of his seven fights in the Octagon by knockout, but he has been susceptible to knockouts himself (especially against high-level competition) as exhibited in his losses to Matt Mitrione and Shawn Jordan. Gonzaga, on the other hand, is a storied veteran who is in need of a win after losing three of his last four. Lewis came in incredibly heated at today’s weigh-ins, so we’ll see if that helps or hinders him. Still, my pick is Lewis via R1 TKO.
Derrick Lewis is a hot prospect in the UFC heavyweight division, an interesting character with some seriously scary power too. Gabriel Gonzaga has been there and done it with the best of the 265-pounders, but has also shown to be when taking punches in the knockout-heavy division. Gonzaga could conceivably get a submission win if he can get it to the mat, but I don’t see him doing so without eating a few shots first. I’m predicting a second round TKO for the ‘Black Beast’ Derrick Lewis.
Gonzaga is a veteran of the fight game with a well-rounded skillset, but I feel as if he’s nearing the tail end of his career after losing three out of his last four bouts. Lewis, however, has won two straight and has shown deadly knockout power, power I suspect will be seeing in this bout. I expect the “Black Beast” to get it done early. Lewis by first round TKO.