Ben Rothwell earned a much-needed victory at UFC on ESPN 7, as he stopped Stefan Struve via technical knockout 4:57 into Round 2 of their featured heavyweight bout in Washington, D.C.
However, Rothwell’s victory will long be overshadowed by a pair of devastating low blows he landed on Struve over the course of the bout. The first kick found its way to Struve’s groin in the opening stanza, and the towering Dutchman needed all of his allotted recovery time before he could continue. The second occurred with a little more than one minute remaining in the second frame.
Rothwell had a point taken away after the second foul, but Struve faltered badly once the action continued. He initially appeared to hurt his leg after Rothwell checked a low kick, and then the International Fight League veteran unleashed a barrage of uppercuts near the fence that put Struve away at the 4:57 mark of the period.
Afterward, Rothwell addressed the low blows that might have turned the tide of the heavyweight bout.
“It sucks, because he moved just enough for those blows to land low,” Rothwell said. “I had to attack his liver on his left side, so after I had to just use my hands after. He was having me come into his knees and I knew that, which is why I was a little hesitant in the beginning. He was moving sideways both times it was the exact same scenario. He’s the tallest guy I’ve ever fought, anyone else those kicks land clean.
“It’s unfortunate. I don’t want a win with some doubt around it and I was losing most of the fight up until that point, so I had to dig deep and go all out.”
Regardless of how it occurred, Rothwell won’t give back the victory. He entered UFC on ESPN 7 on a three-bout losing streak after falling to Andrei Arlovski, Blagoy Ivanov and Junior dos Santos in his last three Octagon appearances.
“It’s been a while. It’s been four years of hell for me,” Rothwell said. “I lost a tough decision to Junior, I had knee surgery and I had a long absence, so this is needed, not just for me, but for my whole family and everyone around me. I’m so excited for them. I have so many people that believe in me and back me, that’s what makes this victory so awesome – seeing how excited it makes everyone. The fans needed to see some old-fashioned Ben Rothwell action and they got it.”
After fighting three times in 2019, Rothwell hopes to be even more active next year.
“I’ve learned a lot in 2019. I was able to get three fights in, but next year I want to do more,” he said. “I want to be extra aggressive and break some records. I won’t be able to break any that I’ve set for myself. I’ve fought seven times in one year before, but at least in the UFC I want to go for more than four, and all wins.”