Ben Rothwell is a man on a mission and he took the next step in completing it by submitting former champion Josh Barnett at UFC on FOX 18 last night (Sat., Jan. 30, 2016) with his patented gogo choke.
A monumental victory like the one "Big Ben" just turned in might be cause for celebration, especially when you consider Barnett had yet to tap to any man in his nearly 20-year career. However, that's not what the No. 7-ranked Heavyweight of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) does when he's looking to wreak havoc on the rest of the 265-pound division.
"The bottom line is I think the belt is secondary, because my No. 1 priority is laying waste to this entire division," Rothwell said at the post-fight presser (transcription via MMA Junkie). "Tonight, it wasn't about dancing or laughing. It was about making a statement, and I made it tonight."
Rothwell has now turned in four straight finishes, including victories over Top-10 combatants like "The Warmaster" and Alistair Overeem. The Milwaukee-based fighter is as close to a title shot as anyone right now in the division.
Unfortunately, Stipe Miocic might have something to say about that. The immensely powerful Miocic clocked, dropped and finished the previously resurgent Andrei Arlovski earlier this month to tally his fifth win in six outings.
Rothwell was originally scheduled to face Miocic, but an injury to the Croatian-American kept that from happening. The product of Strong Style Fight Team was given the nod on short notice just last week to face 265-pound kingpin Fabricio Werdum after challenger Cain Velasquez fell to injury.
But then "Vai Cavalo" bowed out, creating this great big mess atop the Heavyweight division. And we haven't even discussed "The Reem," who stopped former champion Junior dos Santos with strikes back in December.
Overeem is currently a free agent with a big bargaining chip.
There are a few potential candidates who could receive a crack at gold once everyone is back happy and healthy, so where does Rothwell stand? He's content with waiting, or taking down each fighter in front of him until UFC President Dana White has no choice but to slot him in a title bout.
"I'll look at what the situation is. If they want to move things around and they're ready put me in, I'll crush Werdum and take his belt," Rothwell emphasized.
For more UFC on FOX 18 news and notes, including post-fight recap and analysis, click here.