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UFC on ESPN 4 results: Andrei Arlovski bloodies Ben Rothwell in decision win

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MMA: UFC Fight Night-San Antonio-Arlovski vs Rothwell
Andrei Arlovski punches Ben Rothwell at UFC on ESPN 4 in San Antonio, Texas, on Saturday
Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

No heavyweight has fought more in the UFC than Andrei Arlovski. And he showed on Saturday that he’s here to do more than just show up.

In the main card opener of UFC on ESPN 4 in San Antonio, Texas, the former UFC champion became the first heavyweight to log 30 Octagon appearances and he also walked out with a clear-cut victory as he outboxed and bloodied Ben Rothwell en route to a unanimous decision win (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).

“The Pitbull” improved to 17-12 (1 NC) in the UFC and won for the first time since outpointing Stefan Struve in March of last year. He was winless in his last four appearances, but now holds the record for the most heavyweight wins in UFC history (breaking a tie with Frank Mir).

Arlovski (28-18, 2 NC) picked Rothwell apart in round one, comfortably letting his hands fly. Though he was wary of Rothwell’s power, Arlovski repeatedly closed the distance to land combinations square on Rothwell’s face. Rothwell was badly bloodied midway through the round and Arlovski only seemed to get looser, landing a spinning backfist and backing Rothwell up with a hook kick.

In round two, Arlovski continued to connect with his right hand and though Rothwell attempted to stand and exchange, he eventually clinched up to take the action to the cage.

Arlovski tied Rothwell up before creating separation and turning the fight back into a boxing match. A hardy Rothwell marched forward, but for every strike he landed, Arlovski responded with two or three of his own.

The blood was pouring down Rothwell’s face as the final five minutes ticked away. Arlovski maintained the advantage in both volume and accuracy, and even stuffed a Rothwell takedown attempt that could have turned the tide. With 90 seconds remaining, Rothwell took advantage of a tiring Arlovski and landed several hard punches against the fence. Arlovski chose to fire back rather than retreat and both fighters looked spent as the bout came to a close.

Rothwell (36-12) now finds himself in a three-fight slump with consecutive decision losses to Arlovski, Blagoy Ivanov, and Junior dos Santos. He has not won a fight since submitting Josh Barnett in January 2016.

The veteran heavyweights were meeting in a rematch of a July 2008 encounter for the now-defunct Affliction promotion that Arlovski won by third-round KO.