Ben Rothwell on BKFC debut: ‘This is go time, and go time is someone getting knocked the f*** out’


BKFC will be Ben Rothwell’s final chance to achieve the goal he began fighting.

The Kenosha heavyweight, Wis. Living a modest lifestyle, Rothwell said he can live comfortably.

“Can I go out and buy a Lamborghini right now? Yeah, but it wouldn’t be smart,” he told MMA Fighting.

There’s a different prize on the line for this veteran prize fighter, and it draws back to the reason he got into this business in the first place. It’s showing up as the best version of himself, the guy who fought former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett, who knocked out multi-promotion champ Alistair Overeem, who got wild against Brandon Vera.

“I had a belief in myself, like, I believe I’m one of the best fighters in the world,” Rothwell said. “In MMA, I was ranked at one time, fourth in the UFC. I was getting there. I was proving I was the best in the world.

“But, I didn’t show everything, not just my ground, but also my striking. It’s my last chance at getting it right. … I have an ability as a heavyweight to show some things that have never been seen before. It’s amazing to see a heavyweight do what I do. It’s finally time. I have to allow that to happen

Over a decade into his career in high-level MMA, Rothwell has had to redefine what success looks like. Rothwell was unable to always show up and the UFC didn’t offer him the opportunity to make things right, so he decided to take matters into his own hands, leaving the biggest MMA promotion in the world.

His career is a mess. He brings his entire past to the fight against Bobo O’Bannon who is a lesser-known striker and believes that the worst of him will be on the line. This is the greatest possible match.

Rothwell tells himself that this is at most the truth. The best way to get out of his head is to make things personal. When the fists begin to fly, it’s clear that he is already committed towards settling a debt. Maybe he will settle a personal score.

At the very least, Rothwell could push away the previous moment his career, a first-round blowout against Marcos Rogerio de Lima in the octagon.

“I threw a jab and I let him leg kick me and I waited,” Rothwell said. “That’s not me at all. That was total f****** bulls***, honestly.”

Rothwell was famous for letting go of everything in his octagon match against Vera. After two plodding rounds, he literally shook himself up, bobbing back and forth wildly, before charging in and pounding his opponent until referee Herb Dean intervened.

Rothwell remembers Barnett’s reaction to getting submitting in their meeting six years ago.

“‘There’s another version of you,’ Josh told me afterward, ‘that showed up against me, and f*** me, because that guy doesn’t get stopped,'” Rothwell said. “Josh told me, ‘Ben’, that if you come up as such, you will beat everybody .'”


That guy’s still here. He just needs to come out, and so Rothwell chases that state of being. Ask him about his plan to make sure he gets there, and specifics are slim. It’s simple. What other choice is there?

“There’s no reason to slow start,” he said. It’s two minutes round and only five players. This is Go time and Ben Rothwell’s go time is somebody getting knocked out the f***.