Ben Rothwell is the latest notable MMA fighter to sign with Bare Knuckle FC.
Rothwell surprisingly parted ways with the UFC in March after 17 fights with the organization dating back to October 2009. It took him less than one month to find a new home, though, as he’ll shed the gloves and step into the BKFC ring.
The heavyweight veteran announced the deal on Monday’s episode of “The MMA Hour.” MMA Junkie subsequently confirmed the signing with a BKFC official.
“Ben is a very experienced warrior who packs a great punch,” BKFC president David Feldman said in a statement to MMA Junkie. “We are looking forward to see what he can do with BKFC. Fight announcement coming soon!”
Rothwell, 40, was scheduled to fight May 21 against former UFC light heavyweight title challenger Alexander Gustafsson. It was slated to be the final fight on Rothwell’s UFC contract, and he said when he approached the UFC about an extension. Rothwell said he was told it wouldn’t be considered until after his fight. He then asked for his release, and the matchup with Gustafsson was canceled.
“Even if I go in and perform well, knock out Gustafsson in the first round, look great, what’s gonna happen next?” Rothwell said. “We came back and asked, ‘Are we gonna sign a deal?’ They came back and said, ‘Hey, let’s see what happens after this fight.’ … That kind of left the door open for, ‘Go on and win, do great, and we’re gonna let you go anyway.’ I didn’t like that, and we asked for our release in February.”
Rothwell said he “basically got offers from pretty much everybody” in the combat sports space when news of his UFC departure surfaced, but he opted to go with BKFC.
“BKFC came with the best offer, made me very excited,” Rothwell said. “I believe that it’s the place for me because I was doing BKFC (unofficially) long before MMA. It’s something that’s part of my life, something my great grandfather was doing, probably not legally, but had a history of it. It’s something that’s in my blood.”
Rothwell does not have a debut scheduled at this time but said he expects a deal could be finalized in the coming days. He touted his compensation for the move, claiming he’s now a “six-figure fighter” and could find himself in the seven figures if he’s successful in his first three bouts with the company.
In recent years, Rothwell has experienced ups and downs in terms of results. Prior to his UFC exit, he lost two of three – but also won three of five. Notable wins during his stint with the promotion include Alistair Overeem, Josh Barnett, Matt Mitrione, Ovince Saint Preux, and Brendan Schaub.
His most recent fight took place in November against Marcos Rogerio de Lima, when he suffered the second TKO defeat of his career – a 32-second loss that ended standing.
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