To some writers, interviewing someone can be a nerve-wracking experience. You want to make sure your questions are good and the conversation flows naturally. Standing 6’5” and 265 lbs, you would think that Ben Rothwell, current undefeated heavyweight of the IFL and member of the current defending champions Quad City Silverbacks, would be the most intimidating guy to have a chat with.
It was actually the opposite. When entering Champions Fitness Center in Bettendorf, Iowa, Ben talked with me about the fan encounters he’s had this season as well as team loyalty and respect for other fighters in the IFL.
One would never think that size intimidation would have ever been an issue with Ben Rothwell in his years of fighting. At 17 years old when he started to fight, in the “dark days of MMA” as he put it, Ben was fighting guys 30 years old and bigger than him. He remembers being intimidated by their size and sometimes scared.
Years later, he now knows that size is not everything. Ben also has an advantage that most fighters don’t have in the IFL. Even though he started training in Kenosha, Wisconsin his trainer there learned under Pat Miletich who is Ben’s trainer now. He has been under the Miletich Fighting Systems for many years now and by watching his fights with an undefeated IFL record, it seems to be working well for him.
For a fighter of his size and strength, he is very humble and appreciative of fan support throughout the United States. He especially likes to see mothers and sons at the events. Being such a violent sport, Ben takes time to stop and thank his fans when he sees them as well as to make sure that even though they just watched him beat up someone in the ring that does not define him. From my talk with Ben, it seems as though ‘loyalty’ is the word that defines him best. Loyalty to his team, loyalty to the IFL and loyalty to mixed martial arts in general.
When asked if the Silverbacks split up and he had to pick another team to train with, which team that would be? “I would quit fighting. If I can’t train with Pat then I would quit fighting. I was going to quit fighting before I came here. I’m a loyal type of martial artist. A lot of fighters forget what martial arts are supposed to be about. Discipline, self defense and loyalty,” Rothwell said.
He goes on to say that sometimes fighters forget that training under a coach is a gift from that coach who probably worked a lot harder than you to acquire that knowledge. Ben talks about the times he fights, saying that it’s not just for him but he fights for the growth of the IFL also. He realizes it is a new league and that he directly can affect the growth of the company.
One could argue that Ben is the most recognized face in the IFL. He is on the cover of the new IFL DVD, “IFL: Greatest Knockouts & Extreme Action” released this month, which would go in favor of that argument.
When asked who he thought had the most potential for growth next season. Without hesitation he answered, “My team.” That is probably why the Silverbacks do so well. They all train hard together but also joke around after practice showing just how good of friends they are with each other. Also, being undefeated in a fight league, Ben has room to be cocky and arrogant. But when talking with him he often talks about other members of his team first and how well they did this season and will do next season.
With the IFL Championship on Sept. 20th and the Grand Prix Individual tournament in Nov., Ben is focused on the Championship first and foremost. Under Miletich’s training, a solid team and a crushing right hand, it’s fair to give the green light to Ben and the Silverback’s to start celebrating now.