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Junior Dos Santos to fight Ben Rothwell at UFC Fight Night Croatia


A heavyweight match-up between Junior Dos Santos and Ben Rothwell headlines UFC's first event in Croatia on April 10 at the Zagreb Arena.

The company announced the fight on Twitter early Monday morning. Dos Santos (17-4), is a former heavyweight champion and No. 6 ranked contender. Rothwell (36-9), is now ranked No. 5, and after a submission win over Josh Barnett on Jan. 30, his fourth straight finish, had a viable argument for a title shot.

One of those wins by Rothwell was over Alistair Overeem via first round knockout on September 5, 2014, in Manshantucket, Conn. Overeem knocked Dos Santos out of title contention on Dec. 19 in Orlando on FOX. Prior to that loss, Dos Santos had lost only to Cain Velasquez over the prior eight years. In late 2014, Dos Santos scored a close decision win over Stipe Miocic, who is expected to get the next heavyweight title shot.

Dos Santos' title reign started with a 64 second knockout of Velasquez on November 12, 2011, which was, by a great margin, the single-most watched televised MMA fight ever in the U.S., viewed by 9.5 million viewers between live airings on Fox and Fox Deportes.

He lost the title to Velasquez won December 29, 2012, and lost a third fight in 2013. He took terrible beatings in both losses, particularly the latter, and didn't look like the same fighter against Miocic, but had enough to win. With Overeem, his performance raised questions about how much he had left.

Rothwell is a veteran who was the heavyweight star of the International Fight League in 2006 and 2007, and debuted in UFC in 2009 with a loss to Velasquez. He lost three of his first five UFC fights, but rebounded with wins over Brandon Vera, Overeem, Matt Mitrione and Barnett.