'Rothwell vs. Dos Santos' Preview + Predictions - UFC Fight Night 86


I love it when UFC explores international markets. By the end of 2016, they will have visited countries like Brazil, England, Canada and Croatia. It's a great way to bring eyes into the sport, and to solidify UFC’s position as a multibillion dollar, international company. This Sunday, UFC Fight Night 86 will be held in Zagreb, Croatia. And to be honest, I'm not 'that' excited. Outside of the main and co-main event, I'm not familiar with a lot of the fighters on the card (a lot of local talent). Having said that, it'll be a great way for me to learn about these Croatian warriors. Plus, with four heavyweight bouts, we're sure to get some knockouts! These are my thoughts on the two biggest fights:

Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Derrick Lewis


As you might remember, Gonzaga was expected to face Ruslan Magomedov. However, Magomedov was forced out of the bout due to injury and replaced by Derrick Lewis. This matchup is quite interesting, for a number of reasons. First off, let’s talk about Gonzaga. Sadly, a big portion of MMA fans only know him from the insane head kick he delivered to Mirko Cro Cop. After that, he's gotten a bunch of victories and defeats. That's why a win over Derrick Lewis could really get his momentum going again.


Because, let me tell you something, Lewis is vicious! You don't earn the nickname “Black Beast” for being a good neighbor. He has won 14 times, all by finish. 13 knockouts and one submission. That's an excellent track record. He's coming off a first round TKO victory over Damian Grabowski and he'll be looking to crush Gongaza.


How do I see the fight playing out? This is your typical 'striking vs ground game' battle. As some of you might know, Gonzaga is a fourth degree Black Belt in BJJ under Wander Braga. To keep it short, it'll be an easy night for him if he manages to keep Lewis on the ground. On the other side, a good punch by the Beast will shut Gonzaga down. Simple as that. If I had to put my money on somebody, I'd go Lewis. I don't think Gonzaga will be able to take him to the ground, and the Black Beast will end up clipping him.


Junior Dos Santos vs. Ben Rothwell


I'm so excited for this one. You can tell both guys desperately want the victory. Dos Santos wants to prove he's not done. To be honest, he hasn't looked the same since the wars he had with Cain Velasquez. They definitively took a piece of him. According to JDS, that is not the case. The only way to demonstrate it is to defeat one of the hottest heavyweight contenders in the world, Ben Rothwell. On the other side, Rothwell has been on fire! Earning victories over some of better known guys in the division.


At first glance, looking at their records, physiques and resumes, most people would immediately give the fight to Dos Santos. Most people would be wrong. Seriously, Rothwell is the real deal. He defeated Alistair Overeem (who recently TKO'd Junior), and his ground game has dramatically improved since his debut, to the point in which he was able to submit professional wrestler and BJJ black belt, Josh Barnett.


With that being said, I still believe 2013 Dos Santos is a better fighter. The question is: will he be able to go back to that level? I believe he could. Unfortunately, I don't see him stepping up against Rothwell. It'll be an excellent stand up show. And while Dos Santos' boxing is a lot cleaner, I think Big Ben will end up catching him and finishing him. With a decisive win, either guy could be next in line for a title shot. We'll have to wait and see.


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