by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
Despite an impressive record with over 30 professional fights, training at one of the top camps in the world, and being on a 13-fight win streak, former International Fight League heavyweight Ben Rothwell seems to be quite the underdog heading into his upcoming fight at Affliction “Banned” against Andrei Arlovski.
Whether it’s Arlovski’s reputation, his Ultimate Fighting Championship title reign, or maybe the scary mouthpiece he wears, many critics believe Rothwell is stepping into the lion’s den by facing the Belarus native.
But Rothwell feels his experiences are more than enough to prepare him for a showdown with Arlovski on July 19.
“It wasn’t just the nine fights in the IFL, it’s the 20-plus fights I had went through before then. I even go back as far as when I started in the sport, at 17-18 years old. I was having to fight more than once a night in tournaments,” said Rothwell recently. “I also did the Hawaiian tournament in Super Brawl when I had to fight Friday night, come back and fight Saturday two times. All of those experiences have prepared me for the worst and I’m excited about my fight with Andrei and I feel well prepared for it.”
Rothwell is more familiar with Arlovski’s style than most fighters could ever be prepared for coming into a fight. See, he worked exclusively as Tim Sylvia’s training partner for two of the three fights the former champion had with Arlovski and it was Rothwell’s job to study and mimic him to help his training partner succeed.
“I helped with his last two fights with Andrei. I played as Andrei Arlovski and played that role, so I really studied Andrei. I tried to be like him, and showed Tim things that he was going to see in the ring so he wasn’t going to see anything he wasn’t prepared for,” said Rothwell. “The difference is I’m not 6’8” and I don’t have as long of a reach as Tim, so my style is different than Tim. I can’t go in and do what Tim did. I have to go in there and impose my will and impose my game plan and use the skills that I have against Andrei.”
One major factor that has been mentioned going into the fight is Rothwell’s long absence from fighting following a contract dispute with the IFL that saw him leave the organization for a new promotion, but the Miletich System’s fighter says time off was just what the doctor ordered.
“I welcomed it,” he commented. “I put in eight fights from September (2006) to September (2007). I had a lot of fights that year and I was getting burnt out and wanted to be done. I utilized this time to greatly improve my skills, get my mind where it needed to be, and this is perfect timing.”
Having trained for this fight and being as well prepared as ever, Rothwell isn’t intimidated by Arlovski. He isn’t scared of Arlovski. He’s just ready to punch Arlovski.
“He hits hard,” said Rothwell. “Well, I know I hit hard too.