There will be only one heavyweight bout at UFC on FX 7 this Saturday in Brazil, but it’s a crucial fight for both of the competitors who will square off inside the Octagon.

Brazilian Gabriel Gonzaga will take on Ben Rothwell on the FX main card. The fight itself means nothing as far as the title picture is concerned, but as both men are now in their thirties and not getting any younger, it’s a must-win and means the world to their ongoing UFC tenures.

So, will it be Gonzaga or Rothwell that stays relevant in the heavyweight division?

Gonzaga has had an up and down mixed martial arts career, but he does have one highlight that makes him a popular fighter not only in Brazil, but around the world. Everyone remembers UFC 70, where “Napao” landed the head-kick heard ’round the world on the man who made the strike famous, Mirko “CroCop.” But that’s the lone positive moment that people remember from Gonzaga’s career.

Sure, Gonzaga has finished each fighter he has beaten, but he has yet to beat a top of the line heavyweight, with the exception of CroCop. Whenever the Brazilan got on a roll in his UFC career, he lost fights he needed to win. After knocking out CroCop, Gonzaga fought Randy Couture and Fabricio Werdum, both of whom TKO’d him in the second round.

Fast forward t0 2010, as Gonzaga was coming off a loss to Junior dos Santos. He followed that loss with another, to Brendan Schaub, which caused him to be released from the UFC. But the Brazilian caught a break and filled in at UFC 142 to take on Ednaldo Oliveira. Gonzaga went on to submit Oliveira in the first round, which allowed him to continue competing in the UFC.

However, until Gonzaga defeats Rothwell impressively and wins against quality heavyweights, he will remain a mid-level fighter.

Rothwell is in a similar predicament, but he has an overall better resume, as indicated by his 32-8 record.

“Big Ben” was a force in the IFL promotion, defeating the likes of Roy Nelson and Ricco Rodriguez. But his UFC career hasn’t gone quite as well. Rothwell lost two of his first three fights, falling via TKO against Cain Velasquez and dropping a unanimous decision to Mark Hunt, but he bounced back with a huge knockout victory over Brendan Schaub.

The win was one Rothwell really needed, and he defeated one of the UFC heavyweight up-and-comers in spectacular fashion. If Rothwell can continue that momentum against Gonzaga, and go on to defeat top-10 heavyweights in his subsequent fights, he will without a doubt become relevant. But until that happens, he also remains in the middle of the pack.

Both men know they are past their prime, but they still want to prove that they have what it takes to be considered a possible title contender. But a loss on Saturday rules out any hope of climbing the ladder again. Expect Gonzaga and Rothwell to do anything they can to pick up a much-needed win in Brazil.

Photo: Gabriel Gonzaga (R) rains punches on his opponent (Sherdog)

About The Author

Corey Adams
Staff Writer

Corey Adams didn't grow up watching mixed martial arts, considering the UFC was just getting started the year he was born, but in his teenage years, witnessed the action and has fallen in love with the sport. Corey was the first to join The MMA Corner staff -- other than founder Josh Davis -- and has been writing for the site ever since. Corey attends Austin Peay State University, where he majors in Communications with a focus on journalism. When he's not covering MMA, Corey is still writing on many sports with both local and campus newspapers. His favorite sports teams are the Atlanta Braves and Denver Broncos. Follow him on Twitter at the link below.