Ben Rothwell: I Need to Become a Contender or Find Something Else to Do

By Ben Fowlkes

UFC heavyweight Ben Rothwell and Andrei Arlovski aren’t friends, exactly. Not in the strictest sense of the word. They spent a little over ten minutes in the ring together back in July of 2008. Since then the two heavyweights haven’t talked much.

Still, Rothwell said, it was a strange feeling watching the latest stop on Arlovski’s precipitous decline last Saturday night. Watching his former foe laid out on the canvas after getting knocked out by Sergei Kharitonov in the first round of the Strikeforce Grand Prix, he felt sick to his stomach, though he’s not entirely sure why.

“Seeing him knocked out like that, it makes me feel bad,” Rothwell said. “I couldn’t even be like, hey, awesome knockout. It’s like seeing that happen to a friend, and I don’t even know Andrei all that well. I just know him from when we fought, and before he was really cool to me and after he was really cool to me. I haven’t really talked to him since, so I don’t know why I feel that way, but you just have that kind of connection with someone you fought a war with. I don’t want to see him like that.”

Rothwell (31-7) has had a lot of time to sit around and think about stuff like this over the last eight months. Maybe too much time. After injuring his knee in the first round of his UFC 115 fight with Gilbert Yvel, Rothwell has been on the sidelines. He had surgery in late July, and now has rehabbed it to the point where he can finally do just about everything in the gym.

“I’m just trying to hold [UFC matchmaker] Joe Silva off,” he joked. “They want you to fight tomorrow, you know what I mean? They want you back as soon as they can get you. … I think right now if I was a lightweight they’d be telling me, ‘Fight or get out of here.’ But being an experienced heavyweight, they’re going to keep me on the roster and keep me in the mix. Experienced heavyweights are a little harder to come by.”

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