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Fueled by Fans-Furied by Haters ~ Rothwell is on his way back

JKhrome12011-03-31 01:19:32 +0000 #1
Fueled by fans, furied by haters, Ben Rothwell focused on spectacular UFC return

by Steven Marrocco on Mar 22, 2011 at 9:15 pm ET

Coming home from an autograph session to a computer screen filled with insults is a jarring experience.

Welcome to the double-edged sword of fandom, a split world fighters encounter when they get to the big show. Up close and personal, they're bathed in praise. Online, where MMA lives and breathes, they're cut off at the knees at a moment's notice.

That goes double for the fighters who bring personality to the table, the ones who don't consult the public relations manual before they speak, or the ones who've decided they're better served as heels.

Heavyweight Ben Rothwell (31-7 MMA, 1-1 UFC) is upset. He has not decided to be a heel.

He calls ( ) and starts in about an online story about him and his road to recovery following a ruptured ACL he suffered in his most recent fight against Gilbert Yvel at UFC 115, where he won via decision. The story was fine, but then he scrolled down and saw the comments section. The basic summary: Ben Rothwell sucks.

He goes off on these faceless, largely nameless people throwing stones. Who are they? What have they done in life? What gives them the right to pass judgment?

The fact is, he's been trying to turn his life around since the injury. He's trying to eat better and carry quality muscle. He's cut out TV and video games. Actually, he's cut out just about everything that doesn't involve his betterment as a fighter. He said he's a loner; his wife is his social network.

And now these people have kicked him while he's down. He wants to stay off the Internet forever. It does nothing to wallow in negativity. He won't be the last fighter to make that decision, though it's hard to believe he won't take a peek now and again.

But he damn well knows about his cage issues more than anyone who hasn't seen things through his eyes or been in the gym with him day in and day out. He knows what he needs to do when he returns to the UFC. The knee injury brought all of that into sharp focus.

"It was like, 'Alright dude, you have to take time and re-evaluate your life and figure this out," he said. "You cannot come back looking the way you did. You cannot come back fighting the way you did. You can't, or you're going to be dust in the wind.'

"Dana White does not play games. You've got to be something, or they're going to find somebody to be something if you're not it. And I know this. Now, the question is are you going to do something about it.

"Well, finding motivation – it's all around me. It's just if I accept it or not."

He found that motivation on the other side of the sword.

"What really, really did it for me is when my knee got better, I went to Austin, (Texas) for a UFC," he said. "I'd never gone to a UFC to watch and hang out. And the response I got from the fans, I don't know a single other word to say: amazing. How cool they were to me. I've always been about the fans, but they took it to another level for me. I know without a doubt that the only reason I get to do something I love so much is the fans."

Rothwell said a lot of fighters abuse that phrase, but he really believes it, and he's trying to realign his life to please those that support him in the best way possible: a barnburner.

He can't wait to make this announcement after a win: I will stand outside this arena and sign every autograph with a smile on my face. I know I get to do this because of you.

But he needs time to get better. He's seen dozens of fighters rush back too early into competition and re-injure their knees. He wants to be 100 percent physically before he gets back into the octagon. Not only that, he wants to be a drastically better fighter than the one he's shown.

As it stands, he's 1-1 in the UFC. He was railroaded by now-champion Cain Velasquez at UFC 104, and he has a lackluster decision win over Yvel. Not exactly an excess of career capital.

Right now, he's planning to return in August and hopes to fight on the UFC on Versus 5 card rumored for Milwaukee. He's done a lot of work with the city's native kickboxing son, Duke Roufus, and that would work perfectly for a training camp.

Rothwell would like to fight Brendan Schaub, who bagged his first big game with a victory over Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic this past Saturday at UFC 128. But that's a wish, and not a plan.

The priority is getting back to speed. He's since been encouraged further by trips to UFC 119 in Indianapolis and UFC 123 in Detroit. He's met more fans that have given him the motivation to get better when there are so many ways to distract yourself.

"I feel like I buried that guy that I once was," Rothwell said.

So he's taking a full year to recover before he gets back into the cage.

"I want my opponent to crumble right and front of me and know I was not the guy he was prepared to fight," he said.

Got a problem with that?

RJ3162011-03-31 01:32:12 +0000 #2

wandy12011-03-31 01:38:11 +0000 #3
He can't hang with the HW's that now run the UFC
JKhrome12011-03-31 01:29:12 +0000 #4
i really wonder if he's going to come back in the best shape of his life .... like he used this past year and half to healing his body and WORKING OUT BUILDING MUSCLE. yeah he'll never be champion in the UFC, but i think if he was able to change his workouts and try and build muscle and be healthier he could be one of those top gatekeepers
MFSQPSFAN2011-03-31 02:34:33 +0000 #5
could def be a great gatekeeper for the UFC. he's got a solid name, great resume builder for legit up-and-comers.



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