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Midnight Mania! Ben Rothwell believes Light Heavyweights moving up because, ‘They think the Heavyweights suck’

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Welcome to Midnight Mania!

When Ovince Saint Preux faces off with Ben Rothwell at UFC on ESPN 9 on May 13th, it will be his first Heavyweight appearance. “OSP” has been a pro since 2008, so it’s worth wondering why he’s making the jump now. While the COVID-19 pandemic is a likely and understandable reason to avoid a weight cut, Rothwell himself has a different theory.

“I already went through that with [Villante], so I already went through all those emotions about these guys are moving up to heavyweight,” Rothwell said Friday on The A-Side live chat (transcription via MMAFighting). “They think the heavyweights suck. Jon Jones is beating everybody, they’re running from him. I kind of got over it. I see that guys like Daniel Cormier and even going further back, Randy Couture, I think they really opened the door for guys in that weight class, that weight area, to fight wherever, up and down.”

Rothwell explained further that smaller Heavyweights and former Light Heavyweights often have a speed advantage, which can certainly make a difference. However, he also warns about the different levels of power that truly big men carry.

“Technically, from what I can see, it’s why Curtis Blaydes is having so much success,” Rothwell said. “I feel like it’s a wrestling, it’s a jiu-jitsu thing. A lot of the heavyweights it’s the old rule of, ‘First heavyweight to get a takedown wins the fight’ – that was the old saying back in early 2000. I don’t know if much has changed. You’ve got your couple of guys that are okay, but I think for the most part it’s a speed factor. The guys at 220, 230, feel like they have an advantage, they can go up or down.

“Look at what Randy Couture did. He was really good at getting his takedowns, he’d wear guys down, he could beat the bigger guy, and I think some of that stands true. But you’ve got guys you’ve got to be careful with at heavyweight. There’s always the power factor. I think all the heavyweights down the board bring a danger factor that doesn’t exist in any other weight class.”

Rothwell has been fighting since 2001, so “Big Ben” certainly has much better perspective than most on what it takes to compete in the Heavyweight field. Going back to Rothwell’s “They think the Heavyweights suck” comment, it’s worth mentioned that the Heavyweight skill and threat level jumps at a certain point.

It’s one thing to break into the top 10 by taking out Shamil Abdurakhimov, but then an upstart Light Heavyweight may find himself in the cage with a real animal like Blaydes or Jairzinho Rozenstruik.

It’s a risky game!


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