Ben Rothwell wanted to fight for the UFC heavyweight championship following his recent submission of Josh Barnett.
Instead, Rothwell will head to Croatia and take on former titleholder Junior dos Santos later thsi year at UFC Fight Night 86.
And he believes it is a perfect opportunity to showcase himself once again.
“Junior might be coming off a loss, but he also beat Stipe (Miocic), he beat Cain (Velasquez), he beat (Fabricio) Werdum and he’s a former UFC heavyweight champion,” said Rothwell, during a recent appearance on The MMA Hour. “That is what it is. He has a lot of people who believe in him still, think it’s a great fight.
“A lot of people are picking him so that means it’s a great fight for the fans.”
The 34-year-old Rothwell (36-9) has defeated Barnett, Matt Mitrione, former Strikeforce champion Alistair Overeem and current ONE Championship heavyweight champion Brandon Vera since a 2013 submission defeat to Gabriel Gonzaga. All four wins have been stoppages, including two in the first round.
While Rothwell discussed the fact that there are other contenders in the division, he claims most are either hurt or booked. Miocic is likely to challenge Werdum for the title next after back surgery sidelined Velasquez.
“I believe this one definitely makes me the No. 1 contender,” he added. “So I accept the challenge.”
Dos Santos (17-4) is just 2-3 over his last five fights, falling to Velasquez twice and Overeem in December around wins vs. Miocic and Mark Hunt.