Ben RothwellBen Rothwell has always been a guy that looked more like a Roy Nelson or a Fedor Emelianenko than a Cheick Kongo or a Shane Carwin.

People can change though, and Ben’s manager, Monte Cox, says Rothwell has.

Rothwell was 6-foot-5 and 290 pounds by the time he was 18 years old. He was never a weight lifter and used his mass and natural strength to help him in the early days.

But Rothwell hired a nutritionist several months ago and has been strength training seriously for the first time in his life. He said Rothwell has been at or under the heavyweight division’s 265-pound limit for more than a month.

“When you see him at the weigh-in, you’re not going to believe it’s the same Ben Rothwell,” Cox said. “He’s always been a little pudgy and carried extra weight around his midsection. Everybody says that before a fight, but all you have to do is look at Ben and you’ll see what I’m talking about. He’s changed his diet, he’s gotten seriously into lifting and I think it’s going to mean a totally different Ben.”

“Big” Ben has always been a quality heavyweight but never really shined through as one of the elite. After 36 pro fights, Ben is finally getting his shot on the big show, so if he’s going to make a breakthrough, there isn’t a better time than next weekend when he takes on Cain Velasquez. He’ll apparently be in the best shape of his life and he’s not short on confidence.

“(Cain’s) had six fights, but I look at it and I say, ‘Yeah, he’s got these wins, but I know what I would do to those six guys,’ ” Rothwell said. “If I’d have put Cheick in the positions that he put him in, I would have finished Cheick. No doubt in my mind about that. Velasquez had a hard time. He controlled (Kongo), but he couldn’t finish him. And that really doesn’t make for a very good fight, either, when the guy is just controlling a guy. If you want to make a name in the UFC, you have to finish people and get knockouts or submissions. That’s pretty much what I’ve been known to do.

“He was getting hit by a 230-pound guy going backwards. Watching the fight, Cheick didn’t have his feet planted and was moving backwards and they were kind of arm punches. And he dropped him. I’ll say this to you, if he gets hit by me, and I’m going to hit him, he’ll be hit harder than he’s ever been hit before. I believe you’ll see a totally different Cain. If (those punches) don’t knock him out, I’ve gone through all this and I’ve been hit all sorts of ways. I know, the first time, it’s a hard thing to deal with. It’s going to be a big shock for him and it will be interesting to see how he deals with it.”

I’m not sure who I’m going with in this one yet, but I think Rothwell is going to give Velasquez a better fight than the odds are giving him credit for.

Image via All Elbows