Vera successfully stuck and moved during the opening round of their fight. He less successfully did so in the second round, as Rothwell landed more.
But in round three, Rothwell had enough. The Wisconsin native charged forward in the Bradley Center octagon, landed a series of right hands and knees, and crumpled Vera for a TKO finish at 1:54 of round three on Saturday.
"If I see blood, it's pretty obvious I like to fight," Rothwell said. "I caught him and I finished him."
It was a disappointing end for Vera (12-7, 1 NC), who was fighting at heavyweight for the first time since UFC 85. Rothwell (33-9) had his 30th career finish.
"It was time for me to show the UFC what I can do the third round," said Rothwell, who asked for a bout with Travis Browne. "I'm here to give the fans what they need to see."