Preview: UFC on ESPN 24 prelims
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The UFC drafts on ESPN 24 may not match the surprisingly loaded main map, but there’s still a lot to love about them. The battle under the featured card will see two heavyweight veterans attempt to return to the winning column, as Ben Rothwell takes on former Professional Fighters League tournament winner Philipe Lins. Beyond that, eternal best prospect Phil Hawes seeks a statement victory over underrated Kyle Daukaus, while hard hitters Ludovit Klein and Tafon Nchukwi seek their second Ultimate Fighting Championship victory in their respective bouts.
Now for the UFC preview of ESPN 24 ‘Rodriguez vs Waterson’ prelims:
NR | Ben Rothwell (38-13, 8-7 UFC) vs. NR | Philipe Lins (14-5, 0-2 UFC)
CHANCES: Rothwell (-115), Lins (-105)
Since returning in 2019, it felt like Rothwell was in danger of becoming irrelevant forever, but “Big Ben” remains a solid heavyweight even as he approaches 40. Rothwell has fought for more than 20 years at this point, and after a few years as a top-level heavyweight, the Wisconsin native began a title race in 2013. His victory over Brandon Vera kicked off a streak of four. back-to-back wins that impressively crowned Rothwell, becoming the first man to call Josh Barnett in January 2016. However, Rothwell was later outclassed in a main event against Junior dos Santos and then fell off the card altogether, first. because of an injury, then because of a drug. trial suspension. By his return in 2019, Rothwell had clearly lost one step – enough that he was no longer a realistic competitor. His goofy style depended on surprising bursts of speed, and with that, he has mostly been a heavy target for his opponents in recent years. Even so, he’s still gigantic, durable, and quite skillful, and those traits alone have earned him victories over Stefan Struve and Ovince St. Preux over the past year and more. After relinquishing a decision to Marcin Tybura in October, Rothwell is hoping to bounce back against Lins, who is seeking his first UFC win. Brazilian Lins won the PFL heavyweight tournament in 2018 and won a million dollar purse, but was unable to defend his crown in 2019 due to injury. Instead, he signed with the UFC in 2020, and he hasn’t been particularly effective. Lins has some knockout power, but his slow, patient approach saw him lose a close fight to Andrei Arlovski on his UFC debut. There was no shame in it, but getting knocked out by Tanner Boser in June was a much more disturbing loss. On the bright side, this represents Lins’ best performance in the UFC, if only because of his competition. Rothwell doesn’t tend to be very elusive, so Lins should be able to play him at will. That said, if Lins doesn’t score a knockout – remember, “Big Ben” has always been ridiculously enduring – Rothwell figures to be the top round winner because of his pace and ability to control a stifling grind. The choice is Rothwell by decision.
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Daukaus vs. Hawes