At age 37 and on a three-fight losing streak, Ben Rothwell has turned to a familiar face to try and reverse his recent fortunes, and coach Duke Roufus believes it was the right move at the right time.
Rothwell has been fairly inactive in recent years, battling on-going issues with the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) as a result of a 2017 failed drug test and the resulting two-year suspension. Rothwell, who has trained primarily at his own gym in Kenosha, Wisconsin in recent years, made his return from suspension earlier this year against Blagoy Ivanov losing via unanimous decision. In his second fight back, at UFC on ESPN 4 in San Antonio in July, he lost, again via unanimous decision, to former champion Andrei Arlovski.
Roufus, who owns the Roufusport gym in the Milwaukee and was Rothwell’s head trainer for years, told MMA Junkie that he had reached out to Rothwell recently to offer his support in getting “Big Ben” back in the winner’s column. According to Roufus, he has seen some things in Rothwell’s game that he can help him with to snap his losing streak.
“Ben and I are going to be reuniting,” Roufus said. “I last worked with him in 2012. I reached out to him. He’s an old friend of mine, I stood up at his wedding, and I was in his wedding party. I told him, ‘You’re toward the end of your career, buddy. I want to help you as much as I can.’
“I can see some things I can really add to his game, and we’re going to have some fun together and go for it. I have a history with him, and I don’t know how long I’m going to be on this earth, so I want to finish strong with everyone who I started with.”
Rothwell takes on 7-foot giant Stefan Struve in his next bout in December, which Roufus says is familiar ground from his own days as a high-level kickboxer, when he took on many opponents much taller than himself.
For Rothwell’s part, the decision to team back up with Roufus was easy one.
“It’s been a long time, too long,” Rothwell told MMA Junkie. “I’m happy to have an old friend back and working with him again. Not many have believed in me like Duke has. He believes I can go all the way, and I want to prove him right”