UFC: Sudden Release of “Big” Ben Rothwell Leaves Gustafsson In Need of Opponent

Ben Rothwell and Chris Barnett, UFC Vegas 27
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MAY 22: (L-R) Ben Rothwell punches Chris Barnett in their heavyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on May 22, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

The unexpected release of veteran heavyweight “Big” Ben Rothwell by the UFC on Thursday has left Alexander Gustafsson in need of a new opponent.

Rothwell (39-14) had been expected to face former light heavyweight contender Gustafsson (18-7) at a Fight Night event on May 21. However, on Thursday, Ben Rothwell’s release by the UFC was reported by both MMA Fighting, citing promotion officials, and UFC Roster Watch, an automated service that monitors the promotion’s athlete database.

No reason was given for “Big” Ben’s sudden removal from the roster. The heavyweight was coming off a loss to Marcos Rogerio de Lima, but had submitted Chris Barnett one fight prior to that. The 40-year old, who previously competed for Affliction and the IFL, is 3-2 in his past five fights.

The unexpected turn of events now leaves Gustafsson without an opponent, although there should be ample time to find one. “The Mauler” made his debut as a heavyweight in July of 2020, but wound up submitted by Fabricio Werdum. He has not fought since. The Swedish fighter had been booked against Paul Craig in a light heavyweight bout last September, but withdrew from the fight due to injury.

For the time being at least, it appears that Gustafsson will remain part of the heavyweight division.


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