The co-main event of UFC Fight Night 68 is a three-round heavyweight bout between Matt Mitrione and Ben Rothwell. According to the current betting lines available at 5Dimes Sportsbook, Mitrione is a -190 favorite (bet $190 to win $100) while Rothwell is a +165 underdog (bet $100 to win $165). MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas opened up Mitrione at -165 and Rothwell at +125, and action has come in on the favorite Mitrione. This is a heavyweight fight so one punch can always end things, but overall I do expect Mitrione to get the job done. Here’s why. Mitrione (9-3) competed on TUF 10 and all 12 of his pro fights have been in the UFC. He has wins over the likes of Derrick Lewis, Shawn Jordan, Gabriel Gonzaga and Kimbo Slice, with losses to Brendan Schaub, Roy Nelson and Cheick Kongo. The 36-year-old American is a former football player and not surprisingly he is one of the most athletic, explosive heavyweights in the UFC. He is extremely fast for a heavyweight and moves around the Octagon very well. He is extremely powerful, having finished eight opponents in his nine wins. He has very heavy hands and if he can touch someone’s chin they’ll go out quickly. His flaw so far in MMA has been his ground game. In his loss to Kongo he was put on his back for three rounds and lost a decision, and against Schaub he was put on his back and quickly submitted. Those fights were a while ago so it’s likely he’s improved his ground game and wrestling by now, but until we know for sure those are still holes his opponents can exploit. However, going up against a lumbering slugger like Rothwell that’s not likely to come into play. This is a fight that’s likely to stay standing, and with the advantage in the speed department, Mitrione enters this fight as the favorite despite having much less experience in the sport. Rothwell (34-9) is one of the most experienced heavyweight fighters in the UFC. The 33-year-old American has 43 pro fights and has fought a who’s who on the heavyweights in MMA in a variety of organizations in a career spanning nearly 15 years. Since coming to the UFC in 2010, Rothwell is 4-3 with wins over Alistair Overeem, Brandon Vera, Schaub and Gilbert Yvel, with losses to Cain Velasquez, Gonzaga and Mark Hunt. Rothwell is a heavy-handed hitter with 20 knockout wins to his credit. He also has a surprising 11 wins by submission, although many of those have come by submission due to strikes and/or injury. Still, it’s clear this guy finishes fights. He’s a huge heavyweight and he has a good chin and he’s able to stand in the pocket and throw bombs, and more often than not he connects. Even if he’s on paper the inferior fighter, with his power he is able to finish better fighters like Overeem. Rothwell overall is an underrated guy, but I am concerned by his lack of activity since coming to the UFC. He fights basically once or twice a year and that’s just not enough to keep the rust off. He always has a puncher’s chance, but going up against a faster fighter like Mitrione who has been active in the cage, it makes sense Rothwell is the underdog despite having much more experience. I do lean towards Mitrione to get the job done, but I don’t think this fight is as easy to call as most think. I believe Rothwell, who has an excellent chin, has long been one of the most underrated heavyweights in MMA and with his massive power, a knockout win here would not surprise me in the slightest. That being said, I have to lean towards Mitrione because of his advantages in the speed and athleticism departments. If he can maintain distance and not get his chin checked by a Rothwell hook, he should be able to pick Rothwell apart from the outside and win a decision. I could see Mitrione winning by knockout as well, but I lean toward a decision because of Rothwell’s durability. Having said all of this, I believe the odds should be closer to a Pick ’em with a slight lean towards Mitrione, so I don’t see any betting value. I’m picking Mitrione, but I’m passing on a bet.
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