UFC 135 at the Pepsi Center on September 24, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. via UFC.com
In the second heavyweight fight on the PPV card of UFC 135: Jones vs. Rampage, former K-1 Grand Prix champion Mark Hunt faced former IFL champion Ben Rothwell. Expectations for a quick Rothwell submission win, or a Hunt KO win did not come to pass, as instead Hunt managed to outlast Rothwell for a unanimous decision victory. With this win, Hunt moves up to a 2-1 UFC record. Rothwell drops his 2nd in a row, and is now 1-2 in the UFC.
The fight was one that is sure to divide fans. If you are a fan of pure technique, this one may not have been your fit. But if you like fights with drama and heart shown, then these two men delivered. After a tough first round, Hunt came back strong in the 2nd, using his superior striking to slow down Rothwell considerably and open up a big cut over his eye. By the 3rd round, both men were exhausted. At times, Rothwell seemed out on his feet, but a tired Hunt could not close the show, and ended up using a combination of striking and ground and pound to get the unanimous decision win.
What was the high spot of this fight?
The sight of Mark Hunt going for an armbar to close out the 2nd round got the bar cheering wildly. Great moment there, even if he didn't get it done.
Where do these guys go from here?
Mark Hunt was on such a losing streak that it's a shock to see him score back to back wins, but here we are. With this win, he should earn another PPV slot against a respectable opponent in the division. I'd love to see him against Travis Browne myself, but other options would be any of the other Heavyweight kickboxers, including Pat Barry, Cheick Kongo, or Mirko CroCop.
Rothwell showed heart, but a definite lack of conditioning. That will to keep going may keep his job alive, as Dana White loves these kinds of fights. But at 1-2, I could also see him getting cut. Realistically, he probably could use a win or two on the regional circuit to get himself back on track before coming back to the UFC.
Watch it now, later, or never?
Later. Some loved it, some hated it. Personally, I admit I am a biased Mark Hunt fan, and the emotion of this fight live may give way to the sloppiness and conditioning issues on rewatching, but I thought this was a very enjoyable and gutsy fight.
More BE coverage of UFC 135 in the full entry.