UFC 110 - Mirko Filipovic vs Ben Rothwell - Heavyweight Bout
Mirko Filipovic 4/6, Ben Rothwell 11/10.
Ben Rothwell has pulled out of this bout.
Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic, once more un-retired having promised to hang up his gloves after his loss to Junior Dos Santos last September, faces one of the UFC's "true" heavyweights, a man who like Brock Lesnar, has to cut weight to make the limit of 265lbs. Ben Rothwell is a recent addition to the roster, and was handed a curate's egg of a debut against Cain Velasquez. Rothwell looked slow and without inspiration in that fight, being stopped via TKO in the second round, but showed admiral durability and resolve.
He'll certainly need some more of that durability against Mirko, who introduces his head kick ability as "Right leg, hospital; left leg, cemetery".
Lately Cro Cop has been unable to land one of these fight-ending kicks however, the last appearance of such a blow in a Filipovic fight being inflicted on the Croatian by Gabriel Gonzaga. Mirko is on a downward trajectory in his career and many think retirement would be his best option at present, but the man himself believes improvements to his training regime and rediscovering his hunger for success mean he still has a chance at the title if he can put a string of performances together.
He showed his ability to end a fight when defeating Mostapha Al-Turk at UFC 99, capitalising on an inadvertent eye poke to swarm the Brit and bring forward the inevitable. Unfortunately, his momentum from this fight was quickly extinguished by Dos Santos who peppered Cro Cop with big shots and forced him to verbally submit. At this point his love of the sport looked dead and buried and he will be looking to make a statement as much as grab the win in this fight.
Ben Rothwell will not concern himself with statements of intention, other than getting a marquee name on his resume and moving up the ladder. At 6'4" and the maximum permitted weight, he should be able to bully Cro Cop and dictate where the action takes place, which will mean him dragging Cro Cop to the mat to negate his undoubted striking advantage.
Rothwell defended reasonably well against a far superior wrestler in Cain Velasquez but here will need to show his attacking prowess and ensure he gets the judges onside. Rothwell made it to the third round against former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski and looked good doing it before being tagged with an uppercut that ended his night and this fight could follow a similar pattern. For as much as Rothwell has the size and weight advantage, every round starts standing and I think Cro Cop has the clearer means of ending the fight.
The 4/6 available reflects Mirko's recent dip in form and failure to overcome the better opposition he has faced; three years ago this fight would have been deemed a mismatch, but that can be a long time in MMA and the 35 year old Cro Cop looks to have passed his peak. Rothwell, at a sprightly 28 years of age should be approaching his and a win here would see him move into the second tier within the heavyweight division.
Rothwell needs to try to control this fight without leaving openings for Cro Cop, subdue the crowd who are likely to be partisan Filipovic fans, and give the judges an easy decision to make. Whenever a fighter's best chance of success is reliant on three other people agreeing with him, I get wary about risking my money and think that as Cro Cop can end the fight inside the distance, the 4/6 makes good sense. Cro Cop to rediscover his fearsome striking ability and finish a lacklustre Rothwell inside two rounds.