It looks like Ben Rothwell will be spending the next nine month on the sidelines.
The 35-year-old Milwaukee-based fighter recently battled his way back into the win column by knocking out Brandon Vera in the third round of their bout at UFC 164. While the flurry-filled stoppage was impressive, any momentum he hoped to gain from the victory has been brought to halt, as Rothwell announced on Thursday he has been suspended by the UFC for elevated levels of testosterone in his post-fight drug test.
MMA Junkie first broke the story as "Big Ben" released an official statement to the site regarding the situation:
Following my victory at UFC 164 I was informed I tested for an elevated level of testosterone. This came as a shock because I had applied for and was granted a TRT exemption and was doing so under the supervision of a doctor. I was tested every week for eight weeks prior to the fight and was well under the acceptable level each time.
After getting the news of the elevated test, I spoke with the Wisconsin Athletic Commission and they decided to give me an administrative warning. I was told they didn't think I tried to cheat, but felt some punishment was necessary. I have now been informed the UFC has elected to suspend me for nine months.
The Kenosha-based fighter's suspension will add another chapter to the ongoing debate surrounding TRT and its place in mixed martial arts. Where UFC President Dana White was once indifferent to the matter in past years, the promotion's figurehead has taken a hard line as of late. White hasn't pulled punches when asked about the matter and vowed to increase the testing of fighters who are granted the therapeutic usage exemption (TUE).
Rothwell has experienced mixed results, going 3-3, since joining the UFC in 2009. The bout with Vera at UFC 164 was a crucial fight due to his lingering status in the division and it will be interesting to see where he stands with the organization in the aftermath of this incident.
Whether the victory will be overturned also remains to be seen since the matter was handled by the UFC directly and not the Wisconsin Athletic Commission.
Duane Finley is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. All quotes are obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise.