The Staples Center in Los Angeles, California will once again welcome the Ultimate Fighting Championship as UFC 104 rolls around on the 24th of this month. The main event of the card is a light heavyweight bout between Lyoto Machida and Mauricio Rua for the 205-pound championship.
While the title fight is expected to bring some fireworks to the fans, the card’s second most anticipated fight is sure to do the same, as Ben Rothwell and Cain Velasquez are set for a heavyweight showdown.
Velasquez has risen to stardom after only six professional fights. Considered a big contender in the division, he was scheduled to fight Shane Carwin. After Carwin was granted the title shot, Ben Rothwell was brought in to replace him.
Rothwell was scheduled to fight on Affliction’s “Trilogy” card, but the promotion’s fallout ended that. The UFC saw Rothwell’s statistics and history in mixed martial arts and decided to bring him in, needing to give Velasquez a tough opponent to legitimize a title shot in the near future.
The fight may have developed after an odd series of events, yet the bout has a lot to offer to the fans and fighters alike. A win for Velasquez makes him arguably the division’s number one contender, while a win for Rothwell gives the former IFL champion a shot at glory inside of the UFC.
Yet regardless of the result of his bout with Velasquez, perhaps Rothwell’s true victory has already come to fruition as he avoids fighting in the smaller organizations or the unsecure promotions that treated him poorly, as he trades that career for one in the pinnacle of mixed martial arts organizations.
Between Sept. of 2006 and 2007, Rothwell fought a total of eight times, winning every fight. However, the fights are not what wore down the 6’5” heavyweight, but rather the training involved with the profession.
“It’s the training,” stated Rothwell in Thursday’s UFC 104 media call. “The training is what breaks you down. You kind of become disconnected from normal life for eight, 10 weeks; whatever the training camps are.”
While Rothwell enjoyed eight victories and solid career advancement over that year, those twelve months were anything but enjoyable to him. The sport he had grown to love turned into more of a profession than a passion.
“Instead of being something that I am passionate about, it started to become a job,” exclaimed Rothwell. “As much as I fought it and didn’t want it to be that, it was becoming (a job), and that was really a problem.”
Rothwell spent several years paying his dues in the sport to the point where he struggled to even enjoy it. While a career in the UFC is not an easy route by any means, Rothwell has the opportunity now to fight for the most well-known organization in mixed martial arts.
Yet Rothwell is not only more than satisfied with an opportunity to fight in the UFC, the heavyweight is also extremely happy with the match up that lay ahead of him, as Velasquez is the caliber of fighter Rothwell is looking to fight.
“I want to be fighting with the guys that are the names in the UFC,” stated Rothwell. “I want to be a name in the UFC as well, and that’s the only way. You’ve got to be in there fighting the guys that people know, so I’m pretty excited for this fight.”
Rothwell’s opponent is seen by many as the future of the UFC heavyweight division. With the start that Velasquez has gotten off to, that point is hard to argue. However, a former IFL champion and veteran of the sport, Rothwell has the experience to upset the less experienced Velasquez.
A loss for Rothwell on Oct. 24 would signify his first loss in the UFC and a disappointing debut to say the least. However, regardless of result, Rothwell will be entering the octagon a winner that night as he finally puts his career with unpleasant organizations behind him for an opportunity with the UFC.