Ben Rothwell has made his fair share of mistakes, but he also hasn't been afraid to face them head-on. So when he sees a fighter like Vitor Belfort refuse to answer or even acknowledge questions regarding an increasingly muddled history with performance enhancing drugs, as Belfort chose to do on Monday, then Rothwell can't help but get a little upset.
"The difference is I want to address it, because I face my problems," Rothwell said Monday on The MMA Hour. "That's it. I face my problems. I take them on. I take responsibility. And man, Vitor was awesome when I met him in July, how nice he was to me and all this stuff. It just really sucks to hear that. Come on, man. Be the warrior. Be the man and face this. It happened. There's nothing you can do about it. This is your responsibility. You went through this. This is yours. F--king own it. Just deal with it."
In this case, Rothwell is referring to the Sept. 21 report released by Deadspin which alleged that Belfort had "higher than allowable levels of testosterone in his system" three weeks prior to his 2012 title fight against Jon Jones at UFC 152.
Belfort was one of several fighters to be taking testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) at the time, and in the year after, Belfort became the posterboy for the controversial treatment, as his physique ballooned up to cartoonish levels of muscularity at age 36, and he captured three vicious victories in his native Brazil to earn a middleweight title shot. Belfort went on to test positive for elevated levels of testosterone in a random drug test administered by the Nevada Athletic Commission (NAC) in 2014, though he evaded releasing details about the test until his hand was effectively forced by applying for a license to fight in Nevada.
It has since not been lost on many that the Belfort who showed up to fight UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman in May looked like a shell of his former self, losing in just under three minutes with a noticeably diminished physique.
Belfort is now scheduled to fight Dan Henderson in a rubber match on Nov. 7, yet even though a month has passed since the release of the Deadspin report, the Brazilian has yet to answer questions regarding the new allegations levied against him. He refused to do face those questions once again on Monday, prompting a frustrated Rothwell to draw comparisons between Belfort and former UFC champion Anderson Silva, who tested positive for anabolic steroids in January and maintained his innocence in the face of overwhelming evidence during an embarrassing hearing with the NAC.
"The running and stuff, I don't know, it doesn't look good," Rothwell said of Belfort. "Didn't he watch who could've been looked at as the GOAT, in Silva? I'm going to say it, Anderson Silva destroyed his legacy. Not because he got busted, but after the fact, him continually denying (everything), showing just what a coward he is. No respect from me whatsoever. To contstantly be like, really dude? You were tested multiple times. You had these substances in your body. Like, who are you trying to lie to? You got busted. You're a cheat. You f--ked up. Royally. Why are you going to sit here and continue to say you didn't do it? It's a disgrace. And you're not a man. You're not a man. I don't care. You can throw some good punches and kicks, but inside as a person, you are gone. You're nothing.
"And I don't want to see Vitor take this (route)," Rothwell continued. "Kind of running from it. He didn't deny anything. But avoiding this is almost just as bad. It's like, don't do that, man. Just deal with this. It's no big deal. You got a fight against Henderson. You can make everybody forget. You're getting there, you're testing now, you're clean, go in there and beat Henderson. Great, man, we'll move on from this. But like you said, it just kind of makes matters worse when people don't want to handle their business the right way."
Silva infamously blamed his failed drug tests on an off-brand sexual enhancement serum he received from a friend in Thailand. The defense failed, and Silva received a one-year suspension from the NAC.
Rothwell said that seeing how Silva mishandled the situation became a catalyst for the big man's own recent turnaround, and that watching someone he respected screw up so badly then fail to take ownership of it "changed" Rothwell forever. That is why Rothwell feels so strongly on the subject.
"That's how I feel," he said. "Part of the reason, I'm telling you, when he got busted, dude, it's part of what has made me, me. Something changed in me when that happened, just to have somebody we've looked up to for so long just f--king fail us so bad."
Rothwell knows that by speaking about such matters, he opens himself up for criticism due to his own 2013 positive drug test for elevated levels of testosterone. Like Belfort, Rothwell was also a user of TRT at the time, and his failed test drew him a nine-month suspension from the UFC. But unlike Belfort or Silva, Rothwell immediately took ownership of his failings. He just wishes other fighters would do the same.
"People will criticize me, but you can look at my reports and see that, dude, I had a case. I could've fought it," Rothwell said. "The commission, the Wisconsin commission gave me a warning because they were like, ‘Ben did not have an advantage. We have eight weeks of testing. Yes, he was high the night of the fight. He was low the week of and all these eight weeks before.' And you know what? I could've fought the whole thing. The UFC was the one that gave me a suspension. And you know what I said? I said it's my fault. It's 100-percent my fault. Even though a doctor was prescribing it and overlooking everything, it's not the doctor's fault. It was my choice. And that's it. That's the difference between me and Anderson Silva."