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Junior dos Santos sees a similarity between Ben Rothwell and Conor McGregor

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Conor McGregor is one of the biggest stars in the UFC today, and former champion Junior dos Santos sees a similarity between "The Notorious" and his next opponent, rising heavyweight Ben Rothwell.

"Cigano" will try to get back into the win column when he headlines UFC Fight Night 86 in Croatia on April 10 after losing to Alistair Overeem in December, and views Rothwell’s confidence as one of his biggest strengths inside the cage.

Winner of four straight with four finishes, Rothwell defeated his last opponents at their own game, including a submission over Josh Barnett and a quick knockout against Overeem. Dos Santos, who got the stoppage in eight of his 11 UFC wins, expects his opponent to stand and bang at the Zagreb Arena.

"I see some of Rothwell’s characteristics like Conor McGregor," dos Santos told MMA Fighting. "They are a bit different, Conor talks more, but it’s the confidence. They truly believe the things they are saying. It might sound ridiculous sometimes, but they really believe they are capable of doing what they are saying. That’s a strong point for Ben Rothwell."

"He believes in the weapons he has. He’s a strong man, a big dude, and it’s going to be a tough fight for both of us," he continued. "I think he will try to stand against me, a striker, but his fight with Barnett showed that we have to pay attention to every area against him. He has some good techniques on the ground. He might not have many techniques, but he knows how to make it work so we have to be careful."

Dos Santos bounced between wins and losses since losing the UFC belt in 2012, and was eager to return to action after losing his first non-title fight inside the Octagon.

"I asked for a fight as soon as possible, and I’m glad the UFC gave me one," he said. "They were looking for other opponents, but I’m glad Rothwell accepted it. I want to fight three times this year. Fighting in April, I believe I will be able to fight again in maybe August and December."

Disappointed with his performance against Overeem at UFC on FOX 17, "Cigano" sees Rothwell as his first step towards the top of the division.

"Unfortunately, it didn’t go as planned in my last fight," said the Brazilian. "I made a lot of mistakes and paid the price, but I know what I can do, I know what I’m capable of. I have what it takes to be world champion again. My next step is a tough one against Rothwell, who has won some great fights. In fact, he’s ranked higher than the guy that beat me and we’re headlining the UFC’s first event in Croatia, so it’s a great opportunity for me."

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