Preview of UFC Fight Night 86: Rothwell vs Dos Santos

By Owen Phillips     10/4/16     Previews

ufc fight night 86: Rothwell vs Dos Santos

Ben Rothwell (left) and Junior Dos Santos (right). Photo: Jeff Sherwood/

MMA Files gives you a preview of UFC Fight Night 86: Rothwell vs Dos Santos, putting the microscope on the main event and co-main event, and wrapping up the other fights that hightlight quality European talent.

‘Big’ Ben Rothwell (36-9) is back again to continue his charge to the title as the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) makes its maiden visit to Croatia and his opponent is former UFC heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos (17-4). ‘Cigano’ Dos Santos has had a bumpy ride of late, recently losing to Alistair Overeem by knockout and previous to that he won a five round marathon against Stipe Miocic. Dos Santos has a win against the current champion Fabricio Werdum and this match-up with Rothwell will send him on the right course for a rematch.

Rothwell’s last fight was previewed here. He brings a vast range of tools to the contest with his creative striking and first class ground game. His uses tricky angles on his punches and has the typical power of a heavyweight.

Against his previous opponent Josh Barnett, the first round was very competitive with Rothwell wearing some of Barnett’s strikes to his face. The second round saw Barnett work in the clinch which is his comfort zone and he attempted a single leg takedown but Rothwell forced his head into a guillotine style choke which according to ‘Big’ is specifically a gogochoke. Rothwell dragged Barnett down to the ground and submitted him for his first loss by this method in his professional career.

Junior Dos Santos has been in some battles since he wore the UFC strap. Life does not normally get any easier for a heavyweight as they reach the top of the sport and this is true for Dos Santos. A rematch with Cain Velasquez was a heavy beatdown and the third meeting with Velazquez was a dominant loss, then a more recent five-round war with Stipe Miocic took a lot out of him.

The previous encounter for Dos Santos against Overeem was previewed here. Dos Santos had trouble getting inside against Overeem to score with his crisp boxing combinations due to Overeem’s powerful kicks and movement. He will not have to deal with the same level of kickboxing against Ben Rothwell and should have more opportunities to land strikes.

This main event heavyweight clash at UFC Fight Night 86: Rothwell vs Dos Santos promises to be a great contest with Junior Dos Santos looking to stay in the picture as an elite heavyweight and Ben Rothwell getting ever closer to a title bout with a win. Who will get the last laugh? We have heard Rothwell’s but maybe it is Dos Santos who will be the happy one when the fight is over.

Derrick Lewis will step up to fight anyone and will be a tough fill-in for Gonzaga

Derrick ‘The Black Beast’ Lewis (14-4, 1NC) has been on a roll recently and has said he wants to fight as regularly as possible. His next assignment is a short notice co-main event bout at UFC Fight Night 86: Rothwell vs Dos Santos against veteran Brazilian Gabriel Gonzaga (17-10). Gonzaga’s original opponent Ruslan Magomedov pulled out after sustaining an injury so Lewis stepped in and this will make Gonzaga’s aim of starting a winning streak even harder.

Gonzaga’s last fight was not the most exciting one to watch and he explained to MMAjunkie that “facing a knockout artist made me more conservative because of the risks”. This style ultimately got him the victory and some relief from three consecutive losses. Derrick Lewis has good power too and he will not be willing to let time pass through the full three rounds.

Lewis has stoppage victories in all 14 of his professional MMA wins including 13 knockouts. By no means is Gonzaga in for an easier night than he was against his last opponent Konstantin Erokhin. Derrick Lewis showed fantastic takedown defense in his last appearance against submission savvy Damian Grabowski to shut down that avenue and get the TKO.

Gonzaga has shown to be very well rounded and has the skills to beat Lewis. If Lewis can keep the fight on the feet he will be an absolute ‘beast’ to deal with. It is going to be an intensely fought bout and one of the most anticipated on the UFC Fight Night 86 card.

Collection of European talent ready to rise up

UFC Fight Night 86: Rothwell vs Dos Santos in Zagreb, Croatia features some good European talent and the pick of the remaining fights from the event include Polish standout Marcin Tybura (13-1) taking on the best moustache in MMA Timothy Johnson (9-2) at heavyweight on the main card, the featured preliminary fight on Fox Sports between the well-rounded Zak Cummings (18-4) and tough-as-nails Dane Nicolas Dalby (14-0-1), and Englishman Ian Entwistle (9-2) who has a superb ground game returns from injury to face Mexican Alejandro Perez (16-6) also on the Fox Sports preliminary card.

Local Croatian fighters who are trying to make a name for themselves in front of the home fans include Filip Pejic (10-1-1) who makes his UFC debut against Damian Stasiak (8-3) on the Fox Sports preliminaries and 12 fight UFC veteran Igor ‘The Duke’ Pokrajac (28-12, 1NC) making a return for a second stint in the octagon against Jan Blachowicz (18-5) on the main card. There are plenty of interesting fights that deserve your viewing in the UFC’s first visit to Croatia and with five heavyweight clashes from top to bottom including the top four on the main card, jaw-dropping finishes might be on the menu.