Preview: UFC Fight Night 188 Prelims - Rothwell vs. Barnett

By: Tom Feely
May 20, 2021

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Heavyweights

NR | Ben Rothwell (38-13, 8-7 UFC) vs. NR | Chris Barnett (21-6, 0-0 UFC)

ODDS: Rothwell (-310), Barnett (+255)

Even though his days as a contender are clearly behind him, Rothwell is still a reliable heavyweight as he closes in on his 40th birthday. This bout will mark over 20 years for Rothwell as a professional fighter, and after hanging around the upper tiers of the division for a while, he started an earnest run towards the title in 2013. Rothwell kicked off 2016 by becoming the first man to tap Josh Barnett, but that wound up being his high-water mark. His winning streak came to an end against Junior dos Santos shortly thereafter, and a combination of injuries and drug test issues then knocked Rothwell completely off the radar. Upon his 2019 return, Rothwell had clearly lost a step. The key to his success had always been his sneaky quickness for such a giant man, and that advantage was no longer present. However, Rothwell is still giant and durable, which has been enough to get the occasional win at heavyweight. After losing to Marcin Tybura in October, Rothwell looks to rebound against a UFC newcomer. Barnett is one of the unlikelier UFC signings in recent memory. While “Beast Boy” is a decently skilled fighter, he has traditionally fit firmly into the “entertainment” side of the spectrum when it comes to regional heavyweight—and occasionally super heavyweight or openweight—mixed martial arts. Barnett can move shockingly well for being such a short and squat man, as evidenced by his traditional post-fight dance routines, but he tends to need to lean on his size or physicality—an advantage he doesn't figure to have here. A Barnett win would be a nice and unexpected surprise, but the pick is Rothwell via first-round stoppage.

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