The UFC’s #3 ranked heavyweight has pulled out of his UFC Fight Night 76 bout against Ben Rothwell with an undisclosed injury.
UFC officials confirmed on Tuesday that Stipe Miocic will not be fighting Ben Rothwell in Saturday’s co-main event in Dublin. The UFC initially explored late replacement options but given the short notice of Miocic’s withdrawal and the location of the fight (in Ireland), the promotion ultimately decided to pull out Rothwell from the fight card, as well.
Rothwell is ranked #7 by UFC and the bout had title implications written all over it. UFC undisputed Heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum had just taken out #1 ranked former champion Cain Velasquez last June, while the second ranked heavyweight Junior Dos Santos is set to face Alistair Overeem in December. According to UFC sources, the winner of that bout will likely get the next shot at Werdum’s title. However, an impressive win by Miocic would have put him in contention too. That isn’t happening anymore.
Miocic ends the year with just one fight in the books and that was a 5th round TKO finish of Mark Hunt at UFC Fight Night 65 last May. The 33-year old Croatian American is 4-1 in his last five fights with 2 KOs. His only loss during that stretch was a close decision against former champion Junior Dos Santos at UFC on Fox 13 which earned fight of the night honors.
Miocic’s withdrawal was a frustrating development for Rothwell who is riding high on a three-fight winning streak. The former USMMA heavyweight champion and IFL standout is coming off three impressive stoppage victories. Rothwell knocked out Brandon Vera at UFC 164, upset Alistair Overeem with a first round KO win at UFC Fight Night 50 and submitted Matt Mitrione at UFC Fight Night 68, the first submission win of his career. Getting a shot against a very highly ranked opponent like Miocic would have given this 34-year old’s fading title aspirations a boost. Now he has to wait and look for another fight.
Rothwell wasted no time and threw his hat at Junior Dos Santos. Rothwell informed the UFC that he would be willing to be the standby guy in case one of Overeem and Dos Santos gets hurt. He says that he isn’t wishing for any injury but added that he would really want to fight Junior Dos Santos badly because a win against Cigano definitely makes him #1 contender.