Ben Rothwell got back on track with a TKO against Stefan Struve at UFC on ESPN 7, although the results don’t tell the entire story of the fight.
While it was an impressive finish from Rothwell after he put Struve down and out with a series of uppercuts in the second round, the momentum in the heavyweight battle was slowed dramatically following a pair of devastating low blows that could have easily put a stop to the fight.
“He’s a man for stepping up and continuing to fight me,” Rothwell said about Struve after getting the TKO win. “He stepped up and give that man a hand, please.”
The first illegal shot came in the first round after Rothwell uncorked a kick that landed below the belt that put Struve down on the ground, writhing in pain. Struve was slow to get back to his feet but after almost a full five-minute break, the 7-foot-tall heavyweight was finally able to continue.
On the restart, Rothwell was constantly looking to close the distance and then going upstairs to connect with power punches to the jaw but Struve was able to avoid absorbing too much damage.
The bout continued with both fighters content to exchange strikes on the feet but another errant kick from Rothwell cracked Struve in the groin, which sent him careening to the canvas in obvious pain from the second illegal shot.
Referee Dan Miragliotta saw enough and deducted a point from Rothwell while warning him that a third groin shot would result in a disqualification.
Rather than letting the judges get involved, Rothwell reacted appropriately after his punishment for the low blow by gunning for the knockout almost immediately after Struve said he could continue. Rothwell eventually trapped Struve against the cage and began firing away with uppercuts that eventually dropped his opponent to the ground.
After being docked a point, @RothwellFighter came out swinging for the fences and got the finish #UFCDC pic.twitter.com/O3DntQP9F2— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) December 8, 2019
Rothwell followed up with a few more punches as Struve couldn’t do anything but cover up and Miragliotta called for the stoppage at 4:57 into the third round.
It was a bizarre ending after two illegal groin shots almost assuredly affected Struve’s performance but Rothwell still got a much needed win after dropping three straight in the UFC dating back to 2016.