UFC 203 is shaping up to be a heavyweight affair.
The reason for that is because the UFC has added a heavyweight showdown between former UFC Heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum and the resurgent Ben Rothwell to its first ever event in Cleveland on September 10. As we know by now, that event will be headlined by Stipe Miocic’s first defense of the UFC Heavyweight title against the 3rd ranked Alistair Overeem.
The UFC confirmed the announcement via Twitter:
— #UFC199 (@ufc) May 30, 2016
It can be recalled that Werdum lost the Heavyweight title to Miocic at UFC 198 in Brazil last May 14th, 2016. The bout was Werdum’s first defense of the title which he unified after defeating Cain Velasquez at UFC 188. Prior to his loss to Miocic, Werdum racked up six consecutive wins since his return to the UFC. He won the interim title with a second round TKO of Mark Hunt at UFC 180.
The former champ initially asked for an immediate rematch after getting knocked out cold with a punch from Miocic but the UFC decided to award Overeem with the title shot. Overeem is coming off knockouts win over Junior Dos Santos in December and teammate Andrei Arlovski last month.
Instead of a rematch with Miocic, the UFC is giving Werdum a Top 5 opponent not only to keep himself busy but keep him on top of the heap.
Working Back to a Title Shot
Like Werdum, Rothwell was having a career resurgence with four consecutive wins before losing his last bout. The former IFL star and USMMA Heavyweight champion beat Brandon Vera, Alistair Overeem, Matt Mittrione and Josh Barnett in succession to soar to #4 in the UFC Heavyweight rankings.
Unfortunately, Rothwell ran into Junior Dos Santos last April and found Dos Santos’ boxing too much to handle. Big Ben lost by unanimous decision to fall back to #5 in the rankings.
Despite the loss, Rothwell still has a chance to finally get a title shot if he beats Werdum, who is currently the top ranked UFC Heavyweight contender. Similarly, Werdum’s title aspirations will get a big boost if he defeats Rothwell. The other fighters who are in the running for the next UFC heavyweight title shot are #2 Cain Velasquez who fights #7 Travis Browne at UFC 200 in July and the 4th ranked Dos Santos who is idle right now.