Ben Rothwell found himself the odd man out at heavyweight when the UFC booked the man he was supposed to fight at UFC Fight Night 76, Stipe Miocic, against the man he wanted to fight next, Andrei Arlovski.
Rothwell was in Dublin to promote the event despite the Miocic fight getting scrapped, and he was completely caught off guard. However, while he’s extremely upset with how everything played out, he doesn’t see the sense in staying negative about the situation.
“Really, I was sick for like the whole day that I found out,” Rothwell said on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani. “Because look, I pegged it. I pegged the event, I pegged the opponent, I knew everything. It was right there. January 2, Andrei Arlovski. This is my fight. And then they’re like, ‘no, we’re going to give it to the guy who just f**king backed out with an injury.’ I’ve never seen this happen before ever, somebody getting booked the week that they’re supposed to fight.
“Everybody is just going to bitch. That’s what you expect. There’s nothing that’s going to happen. Nothing. I’m going to sit there and bitch and complain and what’s going to happen? Nothing. It’s just going to make it worse. [Dana White] doesn’t want to hear it. It’s just like everything, basically I just try to take it in stride.
“Yeah, I maybe got a raw deal, but trust me, I’ve been knocked down from far worse, and this isn’t going to keep me down. This happened for a reason. I have to believe that. It’s the story of my life, and this is one of those things where I don’t understand it now, but I’m going to understand it later, and I just believe that 100-percent. I just know that I’m on a different path right now and I’ve just got to stick to it.”
Rothwell understands his options are limited, but he named Frank Mir and Josh Barnett as the two other potential names that could make sense for him to fight next.
“It’s an interesting situation for me. I was going to fight the No. 3 ranked guy. Now I’m going to fight a guy who’s just coming off of a loss to a guy who I’ve been trying to book a fight with in Andrei?” Rothwell said. “It’s tough. It’s like, how do I feel about that? But then I look at the landscape, and besides Frank Mir, there’s only a couple other names who are getting thrown around, and those names aren’t very probable.
“At least Frank Mir is in the top-10 and he’s still a household name to fight. If that’s the fight that happens, then that’s the fight I need to take. But like I said, I’m trying to pursue the top guys here, so we’ll see what happens.”
Penick’s Analysis: Rothwell got the worst end of the entire situation here, but he’s taking the only positive stance he can take here. There isn’t anything else to be done. He’s got to move on to the next one, because he’s in a spot and a division where there are a lot of interchangeable parts in the midst of the pack. A win over Mir would be meaningful enough if the UFC decided to put it together, though the Barnett fight could make more sense. Regardless, he’s got to fight, win, and move forward. That’s all he can do to stay sane.