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On UFC FIGHT PASS: UFC heavyweights collide in Croatia

Ben Rothwell speaks to the media during the Ultimate Media Day at the Arena Zagreb on April 7, 2016 in Zagreb, Croatia. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Zuffa LLC)
This Sunday, he Octagon will add a new stamp to its ever-expanding passport by touching down in Zagreb, Croatia for UFC Fight Night: Rothwell vs. Dos Santos.

In a main event packed with title shot implications, former UFC heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos will clash with the fastest-rising star in the division, “Big” Ben Rothwell. The latter is enjoying a four-fight win streak that is comprised of two knockouts, two submissions and two Performance of the Night bonuses. Meanwhile, Brazilian bomber Dos Santos is coming off his first loss inside the Octagon to a fighter not named Cain Velasquez, but, before that, “Cigano" did deliver a Fight of the Night unanimous decision win against current #1 contender Stipe Miocic.

Obviously a win for either Rothwell or Dos Santos would be enormous and critical to get them that much closer to a battle for the UFC heavyweight belt, which is being contested between current champ Fabricio Werdum and Miocic in the headlining bout at UFC 198 in Curitiba, Brazil.

As for the UFC event in Zagreb, the main card, featuring six bouts begins at 2:00 PM EST on FS1. The prelims will be broken up between four fights on FOX SPORTS 1 starting at noon EST and an exclusive three fights on UFC FIGHT PASS starting at 10:30 AM EST.

FS1 at 2:00 PM EST
Ben Rothwell vs. Junior Dos Santos
Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Derrick Lewis
Curtis Blaydes vs. Francis Ngannou
Timothy Johnson vs. Marcin Tybura
Jan Blachowicz vs. Igor Pokrajac
Maryna Moroz vs. Cristina Stanciu

FS1 at noon EST
Zak Cummings vs. Nicolas Dalby
Damir Hadzovic vs. Mairbek Taisumov
Ian Entwisle vs. Alejandro Perez
Filip Pejic vs. Damian Stasiak

UFC FIGHT PASS at 10:30 AM EST
Lucas Martins vs. Robert Whiteford
Cyril Asker vs. Jared Cannonier
Alessio Di Chirico vs. Bojan Velickovic
 

A CLOSER LOOK AT UFC ZAGREB PRELIMS ON UFC FIGHT PASS

It’s a featherweight fracas as Scotland’s Robert Whiteford tangles with Brazil’s Lucas Martins in the main event of the UFC FIGHT PASS prelims. Both fighters have experienced the thrill of success and the bitter taste of defeat inside the Octagon, and both will be aiming to go above .500 as UFC prospects.

The American Top Team trained Whiteford is known as “The Hammer” for obvious reasons as he owns half of his 12 career wins by KO, including his first-round knockout of Paul Redmond last July. Not to be outdone, Martins is fastball-pitching puncher who has scored 10 KOs across his 15 career wins, including his knockout of Alex White at UFC Fight Night: Cerrone vs. Miller, which netted “Mineiro” a Performance of the Night bonus.

Both fighters have their backs against the wall coming off recent UFC losses, specifically against grinder extraordinaire Darren Elkins. Expect a fast and finish-friendly pace by Whiteford and Martins as they try to regain a foothold in the featherweight ranks.

In the first of five heavyweight bouts on the card, Jared “Tha Killa Gorilla” Cannonier looks for retribution against UFC debutant Cyril “Silverback” Asker.

At UFC 182, the then-undefeated Cannonier made his Octagon entrance in an ultra-tough matchup against UFC and Strikeforce veteran “Savage” Shawn Jordan. It was a quick night for Tha Killa Gorilla, as his career’s seven-fight win streak was snapped by a first-round KO loss. Obviously, Cannonier wants to make a much better second impression by showing off his own finishing skills that gave him six of his seven career wins.

Taking him on will be France’s Asker, who has an identical 7-1 pro record. The Silverback will be riding a five-fight win streak into his UFC debut, which consists of four finishes with one of those being a TKO of UFC veteran Ruan Potts this past June in South African MMA promotion EFC.

And kicking off the UFC FIGHT PASS prelims, undefeated Alessio Di Chirico will make his UFC debut against fellow Octagon first-timer Bojan “Serbian Steel” Velickovic in a welterweight tilt. Italy’s Di Chirico has a stellar 9-0 pro record, with the even more eye-popping eight finishes being an even split of submissions to striking stoppages.

Across the Octagon, Serbia’s Velickovic has been stacking up wins, turning heads and claiming a gold belt in the California-based promotion RFA. With an overall 13-3 pro record, Serbian Steel has earned four straight wins in the RFA and, most recently, won their vacant welterweight belt via guillotine choke in January.

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VAULT BUSTER

UFC FIGHT PASS members, dive deep into the FIGHT PASS vault to bring you five of the hidden gems in the vast, 12,000-plus fight deep library.

Junior Dos Santos vs. Stipe Miocic at UFC on FOX: Dos Santos vs. Miocic, December 13, 2014
WATCH FIGHT
This rock ‘em, sock ‘em heavyweight Fight of the Night was, arguably, the greatest clash in UFC on FOX history as Junior Dos Santos and Stipe Miocic did not give ground on the other in this five round slugfest.

Ben Rothwell vs. Alistair Overeem at UFC Fight Night: Jacare vs. Mousasi, September 5, 2014
WATCH FIGHT
This UFC heavyweight bout would be even more prominent today than it was even then, as top-ranked heavy-hitters Alistair Overeem and Ben Rothwell squared off with a quick and climatic ending.

Zak Cummings vs. Ben Alloway at UFC Fight Night: Condit vs. Kampmann 2, August 28, 2013
WATCH FIGHT
The Ultimate Fighter 17 alum Zak Cummings met The Ultimate Fighter: Smashes alum Ben Alloway in a welterweight bout, which ended in only the tenth D’Arce choke finish in UFC history at that time.

Rashad Evans vs. Forrest Griffin at UFC 92, December 27, 2008
WATCH FIGHT
As “Suga” is set to fight in a couple weeks, relive the Fight of the Night scrap for the UFC light heavyweight belt, as The Ultimate Fighter 2 winner Rashad Evans tangled with then-champ and The Ultimate Fighter 1 winner Forrest Griffin.

Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio Rua at UFC Fight Night: Shogun vs. Henderson 2, March 23, 2014
WATCH FIGHT
Two plus years earlier, Dan Henderson and “Shogun” Rua set the Octagon ablaze in one of the most riveting main events at UFC 139. Nothing changed in the rematch as these two veteran knockout artists traded their best blows in an explosive headlining bout.

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