Rothwell and Dos Santos to headline UFC debut clash in Croatia

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UFC stars Ben Rothwell and Junior Dos Santos are set to battle in Croatia.

Heavyweight stars Ben Rothwell and Junior dos Santos will go head-to-head in the UFC’s debut event in Croatia.

The world no.5 and world no.6 fighters are set to face-off on Sunday, April 10 at Arena Zagreb, with tickets going on sale on Friday, February 12 at 10:00 am CET.

Rothwell (36-9; fighting out of Kenosha, Wisconsin, USA) is jumping straight back into the Octagon following not only an impressive win against MMA legend Josh Barnett, but a win via submission against a Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion, awarding Rothwell the fight of the night bonus.

With all four of his last victories ending in spectacular fashion, Rothwell is repeatedly showing the world why 2016 is his year to make a run at the heavyweight title.

Former UFC heavyweight champion dos Santos (17-4; fighting out of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil) will be looking to solidify himself back into title contention following a loss against Alistair Overeem at the end of last year.

The Brazilian has notable wins over some of the biggest names in MMA including current heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum, Croatian legend Mirko Cro Cop and, more recently, title contender Stipe Miocic.

This heavyweight battle will have both contenders looking to put on the performance of a lifetime to prove why they deserve to be the next in line for a title shot.

Rothwell and Dos Santos will be dominated by the heavy hitters as the best of the division descend on Zagreb, with notable debuts from former M1 champion Marcin Tybura and Serbian Bojan Mihajlovic who will take on French newcomer Francis Ngannou.

Current bouts include:

Ben Rothwell vs. Junior dos Santos
Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Ruslan Magomedov
Bojan Mihajlovic vs. Francis Ngannou
Marcin Tybura vs. Timothy Johnson
Jan Blochowicz vs. Igor Pokrajac
Bartosz Fabinski vs. Nicolas Dalby
Damir Hadzovic vs. Mairbek Taisumov
Bojan Velickovic vs. Alessio Di Chirico

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Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier to headline Las Vegas in April

Alex Rea 8/02/2016
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Back in action: Jon Jones.

Jon Jones’ return to the Octagon after more than a year away from the Octagon has been confirmed.

A light heavyweight championship rematch between Daniel Cormier and the former titleholder will headline UFC 197 on April 23 in Las Vegas.

Jones, who is still ranked as the pound-for-pound best in the world, has not fought since he successfully defended the 205lbs title with a unanimous decision against Cormier in January 2015.

‘Bones’ was then stripped of the belt in the lead up to a clash with Anthony Johnson in April last year and was suspended indefinitely
after he was arrested on hit-and-run charges in New Mexico.

However, the 28-year-old, who is arguably the most talented fighter to grace the UFC, was reinstated by the promotion in October after he pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident.

Jones’ eight consecutive light heavyweight title defences is a record in the division. He will have the opportunity to take back the belt from Cormier who won the championship by submitting Johnson at UFC 187 in May.

He has defended the title once in Jones’ absence, by narrowly defeating Alexander Gustafsson by split decision in October.

In the co-main event, seven-time defending flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson will face Henry Cejudo, a US Olympic gold medallist in wrestling.

Johnson is coming off a unanimous decision win over John Dodson at UFC 191, while Cejudo remains undefeated in the UFC.

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First round TKO over Hendricks thrusts Thompson into the elite

Alex Rea 8/02/2016
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Right in the mix: Thompson on his way to a first-round TKO victory before calling for a shot at the title.

Stephen Thompson, welcome to the elite.

‘Wonderboy’ pulled off a huge upset with a TKO stoppage of former welterweight champion Johny Hendricks at UFC Fight Night 82 on Saturday.

Now, his name has joined the lengthening list of contenders with a legitimate shot at taking on the 170lbs king, Robbie Lawler.

Arguable though, after the impressive nature of his performance, he has jumped the queue.

Tyron Woodley will have something to say about that, as will Carlos Condit but Thompson’s dismantling of Hendricks certainly poses the question.

From start to the short finish he was on top, dazzling with his Kenpo Karate style, switching stances and unloading an array of unpredictable kicks and counter punches.

A hesitant Hendricks was stunned and after Thompson let loose with a violent flurry of punches and kicks, his slumped foe was saved at 3 minutes and 31 seconds of the first round.

And make no mistake about it, the win for Thompson is huge.

Hendricks is an elite fighter. He went 10 rounds with Lawler, has beaten Condit and lost a razor-thin decision to Georges St-Pierre.

Yet, Thompson made it look easy, countering with precision and striking with surgical accuracy.

Now on a six-fight win tear, the longest in the division, he’s on a streak that leads to only one place.

“Of course, defeating Hendricks, he’s a tough guy, the No2-ranked guy, former welterweight champion – I’m asking for the title,” Thompson said. “I know there’s a lot of guys in line, but I think after that performance, I deserved it.”

No longer is Thompson a curiosity, he’s a contender.

After his defeat to Matt Brown in his second Octagon appearance, many dismissed the heralded kickboxer as an over-hyped, one-trick pony. Not anymore. He is a credible mixed martial artist with a striking game to fear.

In that Brown defeat his susceptibility against wrestling was exposed but in the early exchanges yesterday morning he showed composure, working his way back to his feet when Hendricks had him pressed up against the cage.

“Once I was able to get out, I felt at home. I felt comfortable,” added the 57-0 kickboxer.

“Johny, he’s strong, man. He’s a strong dude. I know if I could stuff that takedown and get back to the centre, I could put him away. That’s exactly what we worked on and that’s exactly what I did.”

Wonderboy was simply wonderful and there’s no doubt about it, he’s among the elite.

Elsewhere in Las Vegas, Mickey Gall’s debut in the UFC had it all.

There was plenty of media attention heading into the fight with a win for Gall handing him the golden ticket of facing former WWE superstar CM Punk.

And he delivered, choking out fellow welterweight Mike Jackson in just 45 seconds with a rear-naked choke before an awkward staredown with Punk afterwards.

“I respect that dude,” Gall said. “He made himself a superstar. But it’s a big fight for me. I get to beat up a superstar. That’s what I’m
going to do.”

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