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More than 50 fights into his MMA career, one might think Ben Rothwell would be running out of interesting fight options.
But the Wisconsin-based heavyweight, who will turn 40 this fall, thinks he’s got a lot of potential bookings as possibilities. But there’s one in particular he’d gladly sign on for – if only the UFC’s matchmakers would get behind it.
Rothwell (39-13 MMA, 9-7 UFC) submitted Chris Barnett (21-7 MMA, 0-1 UFC) at UFC Fight Night 188. And later on the same card, Jared Vanderaa (12-5 MMA, 1-1 UFC) took a unanimous decision against Justin Tafa (4-3 MMA, 1-3 UFC).
Afterward, Vanderaa said he’d like to fight Rothwell – which is music to Rothwell’s ears.
“Vanderaa did the press conference and had my name come out of his mouth and said he wants to fight me,” Rothwell recently told MMA Junkie Radio. “He said he’d fight me or (Andrei) Arlovski, but he especially would want to fight me. Well all right – I’m especially going to try to make that fight. I don’t think it’s going to happen because I got told ‘LOL.’ But I’m down.”
The implication from Rothwell is that UFC matchmaker Mick Maynard, if an “LOL” was offered, might not find a Rothwell-Vanderaa fight competitive, given Rothwell has three times the experience.
But Rothwell said Vanderaa, and anyone else who wants a piece of his action, should stay vocal.
“If you’re going to say my name, good,” Rothwell said. “Come try to make your name off me. I don’t give a sh*t about rankings and politics. That sh*t, I can’t control it. What I can control is wrapping my hands around you and rectifying your false sense of reality. That’s what’s going to happen.
“I’m going to push to try to get the fight to happen. I don’t know what’s going to happen though, really. You know how the UFC is. They do what they want. They’ve got a master plan. But if we could get this guy to run his mouth some more and we get the fans (interested) about it and the fans start putting the pressure on the UFC, then that fight could get made. I think that’s what we need to do.”
Beyond the possibility of a Vanderaa fight, Rothwell said the fighters in the UFC’s top 10 are new matchups for him. And though he’s 3-3 in his past six fights, he’s also won three of his past four after a three-fight skid.
Rothwell isn’t in the UFC’s top 15, but there’s no one in the top 10 he’s crossed paths with yet.
“Moving forward, I think I have a whole bunch of fresh matchups that are very exciting,” he said. “Most of the top 10 is all a fresh matchup. A lot of guys that I’ve fought have moved on or retired or (been) cut, so it’s all exciting matchups here on out. And then, as more and more of these newer guys see me as an easy fight, calling me out: awesome.
“Let’s get a little more vocal, because when I ask for you, when I talk to the UFC and ask for you, they f**king laugh at me. That’s what they think of you. … I want these guys to start speaking up now, now that I’ve got this going. Keep speaking up. There are a few of them.”