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UFC Jacksonville live blog: Ovince Saint Preux vs. Ben Rothwell

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This is the UFC Jacksonville live blog for Ovince Saint Preux vs. Ben Rothwell, the heavyweight co-headliner for Wednesday’s fight card at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla.

Heavyweight Rothwell returns after a TKO over Stefan Struve that snapped a three-fight losing skid. Saint Preux, a career light heavyweight, steps up one division after pulling off another signature Von Flue choke this past September against Michal Oleksiejczuk.

Check out the UFC Jacksonville live blog below.

Round 1: Dan Miragliotta is the third man in the cage for the co-main event. Rothwell comes out and takes the center of the cage, and OSP stays on the outside, landing a few body kicks. Rothwell steps in and lands a couple of good right hands. OSP keeps getting back all the way into the fence and Rothwell again lands a pair of right hands. Saint Preux does not look outmatched at all in size in there but he does seem a bit cautious in his first heavyweight fight. More kicks from OSP but he’s not digging in with them. Saint Preux fakes a body kick and then goes high but Rothwell catches the kick and forces OSP down. OSP is now in turtle against the cage and Rothwell grabs a front choke and is looking to slip in a ten-finger guillotine but OSP is defending well, carrying Rothwell’s weight. OSP is fighting the hand and not allowing Rothwell to cinch in his chock so Rothwell lands a few chopping punches until OSP can get up. Short time left in the round and nothing of substance occurs before the horn sounds.

MMAFighting scores the round 10-9 Rothwell.

Round 2: The first round was close and could go either way. OSP starts the second with a good body kick and it seems like he’s intending to be more active. Rothwell still stalking forward and eats another kick. Another kick from OSP and Rothwell marches forward with a combination that snaps OSP’s head back. A good uppercut from Rothwell and now the big boys are in a clinch against the cage but OSP slips out. More kicks from OSP. Rothwell ducks under a big right hand and lands his own head kick on OSP as he’s truing to circle out. OSP is now really getting corner. Rothwell briefly eats an uppercut but grabs a Thai clinch and lands a few knees on OSP against the fence. OSP appears to be slowing some but lands a clean right hand on Rothwell who eats it without issue. Big body shot from Rothwell and another good left hand from OSP as Rothwell keeps corralling him into the fence. Rothwell is now grinding OSP against the cage and OSP is breathing heavy and bleeding from his nose. OSP finally separates and lands a good uppercut. With short time, Rothwell steps in and OSP drops him with a counter left hand! Rothwell shoots a takedown and now OSP has Rothwell against the fence but the horn ends the round.

MMAFighting scores the round 10-9 Saint Preux (19-19 overall).

Round 3: This is a very close fight heading into the final round and scores could be anywhere right now. Rothwell still marching forward but looks a little more cautious now. Saint Preux is now retreating in straight lines and wining shots as a deterrent. Rothwell grabs a clinch and lands a few good knees. Rothwell lands a sharp left hand that hurt OSP. Ooof, Rothwell lands a heavy straight to the body that has OSP defensive and now Rothwell has him against the cage and is landing shots. Rothwell swims into the clinch and is grinding down OSP. This is a war of attrition now. Or it’s just a stall. OSP finally gets free and fires a combination that rocks Rothwell! Rothwell keeps coming forward though and OSP is in retreat again! OSP keeps looking for big counters and Rothwell is just filling the gaps with punches. Rothwell has the clinch again and these boys look exhausted. OSP cannot get off the cage with only 30 seconds left. The separate and OSP lands a good right hand. Rothwell lands his own good right hand. With seconds left they are now brawling in the center and Rothwell gets cracked with a shot that has him stumble backwards and trip to the canvass as the final horn sounds.

MMAFighting scores the round 10-9 Rothwell, 29-28 Rothwell overall.

OFFICIAL DECISION: Ben Rothwell defeats Ovince Saint Preux by split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).