Opening the PPV card at UFC 135: Jones vs. Rampage will be Mark Hunt (6-7; 1-1 UFC) vs. Ben Rothwell (31-7; 1-1 UFC). This is a Heavyweight fight. According to the USA TODAY / MMA Nation Consensus MMA Rankings, Rothwell is currently the #22 ranked Heavyweight in the world, while Hunt is unranked.
This is a contest that could prove to be do or die for both men. Both Hunt and Rothwell were at one time considered strong Heavyweight prospects, but it seems like neither man came into the UFC at the right time in their careers. Rothwell came to the UFC after a very successful IFL run, while Hunt was a former K-1 champion and Pride stand-out. With 1-1 UFC records each, and with a lot of career behind them, if either man wants to make an impact now is the time. They've been given a great chance by being on the main card - let's see who makes the most of it.
How do these two stack up?
Hunt: 37 years old | 5'10" | 74" reach
Rothwell: 29 years old | 6'5" | 80" reach
What have these two done recently?
How did these two get here?
Mark Hunt is one of the most unlikely names currently in the UFC, as he came in thanks to an old Pride contract Zuffa acquired during that purchase a few years ago. He came into the UFC on a 5 fight losing streak, with most of those fights ending in roughly 1 minute. But fans who only know the recent Mark Hunt are missing out. He's a former K-1 World Grand Prix champion who has faced many of the kickboxing world's best. His 2001 K-1 fight with Ray Sefo is among the best K-1 fights of all time. After that, he was a big name in Pride, with wins over Wanderlei Silva and Mriko CroCop. Last time out, he reminded fans that he's still dangerous, but it will be a tough challenge to keep that win streak alive.
Rothwell is a long-time career fighter, who has competed for over 10 years, primarily on the regional scene. He achieved his greatest success in the IFL where he was the Heavyweight champion, defeating Roy Nelson among others before leaving the organization undefeated. He had a good fight with Andrei Arlovski in Affliction, then transitioned to the UFC and had the unenviable task of debuting against future champion Cain Velasquez. He's been sidelined a lot lately, and this will be just his second fight in almost two years. That IFL momentum is long gone, but a strong win here could help bring it back.
Why should you care?
This is going one of two ways - either a fast and nasty sub from Rothwell, or a Hunt KO. Both are fun options, and both will result in the winner gaining a degree of relevance in the UFC Heavyweight division. Also, I know I'm biased, but come on, MARK HUNT. The guy rules.