“Big” Ben Rothwell staked his claim to a spot inside the heavyweight title picture on Saturday when he submitted former champion Josh Barnett at UFC on FOX 18 in New Jersey.
Riding a four-fight winning streak, all finishes, Rothwell could conceivably get the next crack at the heavyweight belt. But the heavyweight title picture is more of an abstract piece than a work of realism.
Champion Fabricio Werdum was scheduled to put his title on the line for the first time in a rematch against the man he took it from, Cain Velasquez, at UFC 196. Velasquez suffered a back injury during training camp and was forced out the event.
Number two ranked Stipe Miocic agreed to replace Velasquez, but Werdum was also forced to withdraw from the fight card due to an injury, which led to the bout’s cancellation and the pay-per-view being shifted to basic cable television.
Rothwell’s immediate fighting future depends on the fight promotion’s plans once Werdum is healthy enough to put his belt on the line.
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When asked if he’d wait for a title fight, Rothwell responded, “I’d like to see what the offer is.
“I don’t know. Do they remake the former champ and champ? Do they make that fight still? It’s going to leave me a Stipe, I believe.”
While conceivable, it’s unlikely that Rothwell’s next outing will be for the championship. If the fight does materialize, Rothwell gave a prediction of its outcome.
“If they want to move things around, and they’re ready to put me in, I’ll crush Werdum and I’ll take his belt,” he said during the UFC on FOX 18 post-fight press conference.
Whether he competes for the title or not in his next fight, Rothwell doesn’t care. ….View full article