This weekend at UFC 110 in Austrailia, Ben Rothwell and Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic will square off as each fighter looks to get back on track in the UFC’s heavyweight division. Both fighters are coming off dissapointing losses to top contenders in the division. Cro Cop was stopped by Junior Dos Santos in September of last year while Rothwell was defeated at the hands of main event participant Cain Velazquez in October.
In an interview with MMAFighting.com, Rothwell discussed his upcoming fight with the former PRIDE legend and the changes he’s made in preparing for it.
“My training for this fight has changed, of course, following the October match with Cain Velasquez,” Rothwell said. “I made a decision to pack my things up in Iowa and move back to Wisconsin. I moved my life back there and decided to train full-time with Duke Roufus. He’s been a long-time part-time coach for me since 2003, but I’ve decided to move back to Wisconsin and have him be my full-time coach. There is a great team down there with lots of energy and excitement and it’s been really good for me and my preparation for this fight. I wasn’t getting everything I needed in Iowa and just felt I needed a change.”
With two losses in his last three fights, Rothwell relfected on the toll those defeats have taken on him.
“I have seven pro losses now and they’ve all affected me the same way. I wouldn’t say they made me depressed, but each one of them made me realize I did something wrong and that I had to do something about it. I just try to learn from each defeat. There’s no point sitting there and feeling sorry for yourself – that’s not going to make you better. I just try to bounce back as quickly and strongly as I can.”
Cro Cop has had his share of struggles recently as well. Since joining the UFC in 2007, he went just 2-3 inside the Octagon and even left the UFC to take three fights in Japan to get back on track. Cro Cop made a name for himself with the PRIDE organization by fighting some of the all-time greats including Fedor Emelianenko, Josh Barnett, Wanderlei Silva and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
“He’s a legend and he’s been fighting for a long time,” Rothwell commented. “I used to watch him as far back as 2000, and even watched footage of him in his K-1 days before I started fighting myself. This is a serious fight and he’s a serious fighter. I had to do everything I could to give me the best possible chance of winning this fight. My training has picked up, I’ve moved myself to a new state and I believe I’ve given myself a great chance of winning the fight.”
While Cro Cop has lost some ground in the rankings of the heavyweight division in recent years, Rothwell believes that his opponent is still a very dangerous fighter.
“One mistake guys could make in my position is that they go into a fight like this underestimating Cro Cop. They could be thinking that he’s no good anymore or that he’s finished. First of all, you’ve got to just look at the fighters that Cro Cop has lost to, in order to see that it’s stupid to write him off. He hasn’t been losing to chumps. He’s been losing to good fighters. Maybe people don’t realize how good Junior Dos Santos or Gabriel Gonzaga are. Also, when you’ve got everybody in the world telling you that you’re done and can’t fight anymore, yet you still want to carry on and prove them wrong – that’s saying something. That shows me that Cro Cop’s coming to fight and that he’s got a lot of fight left in him.”
Rothwell insists that he’ll be prepared for this fight.
“It would be a massive mistake to take him lightly,” Rothwell said. “I believe the pit bull has still got some bite left in him. There’s nothing really to say about how the fight goes. This is the reason we fight the fights, to see what happens on the night. I have game plans, things I have trained for, but I am prepared for anything.”