UFC on Fuel is live this weekend, but right around the corner is one of the biggest events of the year, UFC 145.
Although the card is headlined by a Light Heavyweight Championship fight, a very intriguing heavyweight scrap is set to go down between Brendan Schaub and Ben Rothwell. Obviously, this is a fight both men need to win, but Brendan Schaub must beat Ben Rothwell, and this is why.
Brendan Schaub was one of the hottest up-and-comers in mixed martial arts going into his UFC 134 battle with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. He had lost The Ultimate Fighter to Roy Nelson in the finale, but had bounced back nicely.
Schaub knocked out Chase Gormely and Chris Tuchscherer, putting the entire heavyweight division on notice. Schaub was no longer the ex-football player who fought, but a legitimate mixed martial artist.
Schaub then received a big step up in competition, facing former title contender Gabriel Gonzaga at the historic UFC 121. Though seen as the underdog, Schaub continued to impress, earning a decision over the tough Brazilian. With the win, Schaub had options, most of which were in the upper end of the division.
After much speculation, Schaub had a date with the legendary Mirko Cro Cop. This would be a tough test for him, as Schaub likes to strike and Cro Cop is one of the most feared strikers in mixed martial arts history.
Schaub showed his toughness and determination, knocking out Cro Cop with a vicious hand to the chin, which sent Cro Cop to the floor like a sack of potatoes. This win over Cro Cop made him a serious contender who could challenge anybody in the top 10.
Schaub drew another legend, the aforementioned Nogueira, at UFC 134. Many fight fans had faith in the American, seeing his progression through the ranks of the heavyweight division. They thought he had better hands than Nogueira.
Boy, were they wrong.
The aged legend blasted Schaub with vicious combinations, sending Schaub to the floor unconscious. If anything, the loss, in combination with the loss to Roy Nelson on The Ultimate Fighter, exposed the chin of the former football player.
Now, fast-forward to present day. Schaub finds himself with a crafty, well-rounded veteran of the sport whose back is against the wall. A wounded animal is always the most dangerous one.
Schaub isn't just fighting for a win here, but he is also fighting to stay relevant. If he cannot win this fight against Ben Rothwell, I don't think he will ever recover to the level he has already been at.
The heavyweight division is already taking on all of Strikeforce's heavyweight division, so a loss here could get Schaub lost in the mix.
This extremely talented fighter needs to bring his "A-game" to the Octagon next weekend or the repercussions of the loss will be felt for time to come. If there was ever a time for Schaub to win, it is this fight with Ben Rothwell.
It's almost like a Twilight Zone episode, in that it's win or sink into obscurity.