Alistair Overeem avoided a three-fight losing streak at UFC 169 in February when he pounded on Frank Mir for 15 minutes en route to a unanimous-decision victory. As "The Reem" looks to get back in the title conversation in the heavyweight division and pick up some momentum, his Fight Night 50 opponent, Ben Rothwell, is an ideal adversary.
Overeem came into the UFC with much fanfare and finished Brock Lesnar in the first round of his UFC debut at UFC 141 in December 2011. He earned a title shot with then-champ Junior dos Santos, but it never came to fruition, due to a positive drug test for Overeem ahead of their planned May 2012 fight.
He served a nine-month suspension handed down by the NSAC and returned with back-to-back knockout losses to Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva and Travis Browne.
Overeem gassed out in the third round of the Bigfoot fight, and the giant pulverized him when he dropped his hands.
Against Browne, Overeem nearly finished the fight with a barrage of punches and knees to the body, landing shots that were very close to putting Browne away. The Hawaiian somehow endured the punishment and knocked out Overeem with a front kick after Overeem had zapped himself of all energy trying to finish Browne earlier in the fight.
Overeem has lost some big fights, and he needs to rack up a few wins before he can fight the best heavyweights in the division. His win over Mir set him on the right path, but he’s going to have to beat back some of the guys from the middle of the pack. Enter Ben Rothwell.
The Kenosha, Wisconsin, native is coming off a win over Brandon Vera last August at UFC 164. Rothwell received a therapeutic-use exemption from the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services and was on TRT for the Vera fight.
When he tested positive for elevated testosterone levels, the commission opted to give him a warning, while the UFC suspended him for nine months.
The fact that he wasn't punished by the commission means his win wasn't overturned. He's alternated wins and losses since his UFC debut against Cain Velasquez in October 2009. Both Rothwell and Overeem have won and lost half of their UFC fights.
Rothwell needs to prove a few things in his fight against Overeem. The first thing he needs is a second win in a row to show he is more than just a “win one, lose one” heavyweight on the roster.
The next thing we need to see is whether Rothwell can fight off of TRT. We’ve seen mixed results when fighters stop taking steroids, and that will be a factor when Rothwell and Overeem throw down at Foxwoods.
Rothwell is going to move forward and try to knock out Overeem, and he doesn’t have the best cardio. Overeem will have a clear striking advantage, and as long as he doesn’t punch himself out, he should be able to pick apart Rothwell. He came in pretty lean for the Mir fight, relatively speaking, and he was landing hard shots until the very end of the fight.
It might finally be time for Overeem to go on a run in the UFC that sees him challenge for the title. He’s got to get past Rothwell if he wants title-eliminator fights, and Big Ben is undoubtedly going to be looking to be the latest heavyweight to send Overeem careening toward the canvas.
It’s a great fight between two hard-hitting heavyweights, and it is the perfect opportunity for Overeem to showcase his skills against a formidable foe.