Ben Rothwell’s BKFC debut is set.
Multiple people with knowledge of the promotion’s plans told MMA Fighting that the veteran MMA heavyweight will meet BKFC vet Bobo O’Bannon at the BKFC 30 event scheduled for Oct. 1 at Fant Ewing Coliseum in Monroe, La.
The bare-knuckle booking comes four months after Rothwell, 40, requested and was granted his release from the UFC. The Wisconsin native spent 12 years with the MMA promotion, earning a 9-8 record in the octagon.
In an interview on The MMA Hour, Rothwell explained his defection to BKFC after being linked to a fight with three-time UFC title challenger Alexander Gustafsson at UFC Vegas 55.
“We asked for our release in February,” Rothwell said. “I said I’ve only got so many fights, and this fight was just a fight to make money. What is it really going to do if I fight Gustafsson, who is a name, but he’s 0-3 [in his last three fights] and the fight is just a fight. It’s a fight to make money, and I’ve only got so many fights left in me to make money.
“We just asked for our release, and they said there was a period going back and forth – I think it caught them off surprise if anything. I’ve been with them for 13 years. So they granted it to us and they didn’t have to. So I have nothing bad to say. I’ve had a good 13 years being a professional fighter, making my living off of fighting, getting to do something I love and they granted it to us.”
Rothwell went 2-2 since the start of the pandemic, suffering a quick TKO loss to Marcos Rogerio de Lima in his final UFC appearance at UFC Vegas 42.
O’Bannon, known as the “Bible Belt Brawler,” brings plenty of bare-knuckle experience to the ring, earning a 3-3 record under the BKFC banner. In his most recent appearance, he was quickly stopped by a hulking Alan Belcher at a BKFC Fight Night event.
BKFC 30 is headlined by a cruiserweight title fight between Lorenzo Hunt and Quentin Henry.