The UFC drought is almost over.
Nearly a month removed from UFC on FX 2, the UFC returns to action this Saturday, April 14 in Stockholm, Sweden.
This weekend's fights, headlined by Alexander Gustafsson vs. Thiago Silva, will surely provide a sigh of relief to fight fans everywhere, but my eyes are on the real April prize: UFC 145.
While I'm obviously excited to see Jon Jones and Rashad Evans battle it out for the Light Heavyweight Championship, the main card is full of exciting fights, including a showdown of two hard-hitting heavyweights.
With a combined 25 knockout victories to their names, Brendan Schaub and Ben Rothwell are both dangerous strikers. Though this fight is undoubtedly supposed to help Schaub get over a surprise KO loss to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, you can't count Rothwell out.
Let's take a look at each man's keys to victory...
Utilize His Athleticism
Though Schaub isn't much younger than Rothwell, he is certainly the more athletic man. Schaub needs to utilize his athleticism on the feet to beat Rothwell to the punch and avoid getting into an all-out slugfest, or getting pinned up against the cage where Rothwell can neutralize Schaub's physical advantages.
Pressure Rothwell on His Feet
Rothwell has a bad habit of getting hit more than he hits his opponents, which Schaub can exploit by pushing forward and throwing strikes with volume. Schaub is the more active striker, which should be even more pronounced if he's able to dictate the pace of the fight.
You can blame the high altitude, but Rothwell looked like he'd never been on a treadmill a day in his life against Mark Hunt at UFC 135 in September of 2011. If Schaub comes into this fight in even half decent shape, he should be able to outlast Rothwell if the going gets tough.
Get The Fight to the Ground
Though he may have some trouble doing so, Rothwell stands a much greater change against Schaub if he can move the fight to the ground, slow down the pace of the fight and potentially seek a submission.
Make It Ugly on the Feet
In my opinion, Rothwell's best chance of winning a striking match against Schaub is to make it an ugly slugfest. If he allows Schaub to set up his timing and distance, he will likely get beat to the punch.
As mentioned previously, Rothwell's conditioning was absolutely dismal against Mark Hunt at UFC 135. A huge factor for Rothwell will be if he's able to stay strong throughout the entire fight against Schaub, or if he'll fall apart in the second and third rounds. It's drastically more difficult to win a fight if you're sucking for wind.