I interviewed “Big” Ben Rothwell for my CBSSports.com column this week. After dominating the IFL for over two years, Rothwell will be given an opportunity tonight to assert himself as an undisputed top-ten heavyweight when he takes on former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski.I discussed a number of topics with Rothwell, including his thoughts on the UFC utilizing several former IFL fighters; why he chose Affliction over other potential suitors; how disagreements are handled within a fight gym; and more.
Of course, we also talked in-depth about tonight’s fight with “The Pitbull,” and Rothwell indicated he believes he’s going to see a little of the old Arlovski along with a little of the new Arlovski.
Ben Rothwell: I don’t think people looked at a lot of things. They didn’t look at the opponents. He was fighting Justin Eilers and Paul Buentello, two guys he knew were going to stand with him and weren’t going to try and take him down. He knew what he was dealing with and could be more aggressive. And then he fights guys like Fabricio Werdum and Jake O’Brien. All O’Brien wanted to do was take him down and Werdum is an expert on the ground and Arlovski probably didn’t want to be on the ground with them. You’re going to fight different.
You look at how I fight and I was knocking guys out and then I fight Ricco Rodriguez and I fought a lot different too. I wanted to knock the guy out but I couldn’t make any mistakes and Arlovski dealt with the same thing, so I understand that. He was just in a position where he didn’t want to lose the fight, because losing it would have been worse than having a boring fight.
I think we’re going to have a mix of both (old Arlovski and new Arlovski). With me, he knows we’re going to stand up but at the same he knows he can’t make a mistake because I know and believe he knows how hard I hit. He knows he can hurt me too, but he doesn’t want to get hit by me, at all. And it might make him do things we’ve never seen him do before and I’m ready for that. So I’m really expecting an Andrei of both.
One other thing: if Rothwell pulls off the upset tonight, expect him to make a challenge to another prominent heavyweight during his post-fight interview.
CLICK HERE to read the interview in its entirety.