Hello Ben Rothwell, nice to meet you.
"Big Ben" is certainly not the same fighter he was a few years ago, recently winning three straight, including his first-round submission victory over Matt Mitrione at last weekend's (Sat., June 6, 2015) UFC Fight Night 68 event in New Orleans (see it).
In addition, Rothwell has been more vocal than usual.
After forcing "Meathead" to tap, Rothwell delivered one of the most unique post-fight speeches in the history of the promotion, which included an evil villain laugh and bold claims that no one can stop him (relive it here).
However, that was nothing compared to the recent comments he made on The MMA Hour, in which he called out UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez -- as well as the entire division -- by suggesting that the weight class is going to look very different after the new drug-testing policy goes into effect this July.
"Javier Mendes, it's cool that I got to hear his comments. He thinks JDS is still the only threat to Cain, huh? That's a joke in itself. I'm not pissed off, I laugh, it's funny. It's whatever. That's wishful thinking. He is hoping that is Cain's only challenge. It's not. Is the guy tough? Sure. But I think he's definitely got his hands full with Werdum. Werdum is going to bring some challenges to him. Regardless, it doesn't matter to me. Let's see what happens after July 1st when advanced testing starts kicking in. Let's see if he still fights the same way he has. I doubt it."
When asked if he was suggesting Cain is on performance enhancing drugs (PEDs), Rothwell didn't outright accuse him, but said the he -- and the rest of the 265-pound fighters -- are going look and fight differently with all the new regulations in place.
"I'm not implying anything, I'm just saying I don't believe the heavyweight division is going to look the same after July 1st. Now, if anybody takes offense to that, maybe they got to look at themselves as the problem. Me, I'm ready. So, I'm very excited. That's why I am so confident that I will have the title by next year."
For the record, Cain has never failed a drug test in his mixed martial arts (MMA) career.
Rothwell, however, was suspended nine months by UFC after his win over Brandon Vera back in 2013 for elevated testosterone levels. Of course, Rothwell was approved for testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) at the time, but once the results were released, the numbers proved to be unacceptable.
Still, he says his transgression is very different from past offenders based on the fact that UFC knew about it.
"People say ‘Ben Rothwell, you did this and that.' Whatever, 2012, mine was a prescription, the UFC knew about it, and it was what it was. I don't regret anything, I had to go through that. Now that I went through that I get scrutinized 10 times as much as everyone else. I know where I'm at."
So, where is all this coming from?
According to Rothwell, ever since Anderson Silva was popped for steroids following his win at UFC 183 over Nick Diaz, something inside him changed.
"When Anderson Silva tested positive, a seed inside of me opened up. Something changed dramatically in my life. I was so upset and so enraged at the same time. I was like, I knew it, I knew it all along. And it just came, it's true. It's sad to see these things about these heroes we looked up to, these heroes we believed so much in, it's just, it's a fact these guys are doing anything they have to win, and they're not real."
Just like Antonio Silva, who Rothwell says turned into a "standing punching bag" ever since he got off TRT. And if the USADA has anything to say about it, all the current cheaters will be exposed sooner, rather than later.
Will that include Velasquez?