It's going to be hard to ignore Ben Rothwell from here on out. The oft-overlooked UFC heavyweight made sure of that Saturday night.
Rothwell submitted Matt Mitrione with a unique front choke, cut a hilarious WWE-style promo afterward and then called out Andrei Arlovski at the post-fight press conference at UFC Fight Night: Boetsch vs. Henderson in New Orleans.
"I think Andrei Arlovski and I should dance," Rothwell said. "He's ranked fourth and some people are already talking about him getting the next title shot. I think him and I should fight next."
The two have fought before with Arlovski knocking Rothwell out in the third round at Affliction: Banned in 2008. Both men were thought to be on the down side, then. Yet here they are seven years later in UFC heavyweight title contention. Arlovski is ranked No. 4 among heavyweight contenders and Rothwell could join him in the top five Monday.
Rothwell (35-9) has now won three in a row with three straight finishes. He was coming off a first-round knockout of Alistair Overeem last September. Against Mitrione, Rothwell ate some big punches, gave a few back and then grabbed a hold of Mitrione's neck in a scramble. The massive, 6-foot-4 Rothwell put the squeeze on him and Mitrione had no choice but to tap.
"My performances have slowed me down in the past," Rothwell said. "Now, I think I've made a case for myself. Things are different. Three-fight win streak, three finishes and I think it's time we make something happen and let me fight one of these top guys."
Rothwell, 33, might have had his best performance on the mic in the Octagon with Jon Anik. He delivered a classic pro-wrestling monster heel promo and let loose an evil laugh. The entire thing was priceless.
"The only fight that matters to me now is the No. 1 contender spot," Rothwell said. "I will have the UFC title. I know right now there is not a man on this planet that can stop me in this Octagon. And only politics can slow me. I don't have much left to say other than you have seen nothing yet."
The Wisconsin native was asked in the press conference about the interview and he explained he wanted to get people talking. Mission accomplished.
"I guess you gotta make some noise, right?" Rothwell said. "I gotta get people to pay attention. You say inspiration, I think a lot of it comes from the writers right now in MMA. Constantly I just feel like I'm overlooked and I'm not getting any respect."
It'll be hard not to give Rothwell credit from here. After an uneven start to his UFC run, "Big Ben" is on a roll even if pundits keep picking against him.
"I'm kind of getting used to it," he said. "I like it. Keep putting me as the underdog. I like putting a loss on your picks there. And I think the next fights that I want I'm gonna continue to be the underdog. That's just fine with me. As you can see it doesn't make a difference."