An upbeat Ben Rothwell might not be “happy” happy, but he’s certainly glad to be out of four years of hell following UFC DC.
Washington, D.C. — A happy Ben Rothwell is a scary Ben Rothwell, or so the UFC heavyweight would have you believe. Rothwell, who picked up a somewhat controversial TKO win over Stefan Struve at UFC DC on Saturday night, seemed to be in high spirits back stage at the Capital One Arena.
“You think this is happy? Please son,” Rothwell corrected. “You haven’t seen me happy. It’s scary.”
Maybe he was just a little gleeful because of the pair of “Schmo” glasses he was gifted after the fight, from the comedy personality. But in all seriousness, Rothwell told Cageside Press and other media outlets Saturday, “I’m happy because my family behind me and my coaches, they’re ecstatic right now. This has been four years of hell. I was on a four fight win streak, I lost a tough decision, and a fight I don’t want to get into.”
That, plus a knee injury, led to “four years of no victories and surgeries.”
“This is a big moment for us. We needed this,” Rothwell admitted.
It almost didn’t happen. A pair of low blows landed by Rothwell saw a point deducted, and there was a real question as to whether Struve would continue in the fight. He did, only to be knocked out by Rothwell just seconds before the end of round two.
Rothwell had not caught wind of the speech Dan Miragliotta gave to Struve, where the ref told the clearly pained fighter that he thought Struve was winning the fight, and that he could recover between rounds.
“That’s unfortunate,” Rothwell said when informed of the comments. That said, “he was basically repeating what his cornermen were telling him. I was down, because I knew they were taking the point. And I’m like ‘they might stop the fight.’ But I looked at his cornermen, his cornermen were like ‘you’ve got the fight, you’ve got the fight, coast to a win, you’ve got this.'”
Rothwell at that point knew he needed a finish, or else he’d lose another decision. “I was pretty confident that he was going to fight. That’s unfortunate to hear that the ref said that, because he’s basically repeating what his cornerman were telling him.”
‘Big’ Ben took the occasion to turn up the heat. “What I did in that last minute was what I needed to be doing the whole fight,” he explained. “His game plan was doing really good. He’d step back and let me come into his knees and push kicks. Every time I’d come forward he was kind of keeping me off with that. Finally I didn’t have a choice, and I came in and went through that. So he still threw that stuff, and I just kind of blitzed through it.”
A checked kick caused Struve to falter, and that set up the end, recalled Rothwell.
Rothwell also took a moment to clarify something he’d said in his post-fight interview in the octagon, regarding breaking a toe nail on one of the low blows. While Rothwell had meant it to mean that he recognized the kick as a foul, a number of fans took it as if he was complaining about his own injured toe.
“Yeah, Let’s get that— I’m saying he was justified, the first kick.” Rothwell was a little less certain about the second low blow, as to whether it landed or not. But “the first kick that landed, it chipped my toenail, so he got blasted with it, and that’s why I felt bad.”
Watch the full UFC DC post-fight press scrum with Ben Rothwell above!