The year was 2002. The organization was UNITED STATES MIXED MARTIAL ARTS. The name of the show was “USMMA 2: RING OF FURY” and it took place in Lowell, Massachusetts on September 21st at the Tsongas Arena. In this edition of PRO MMA’s ( “MMA FLASHBACK” we are focusing on the heavyweight co-main event title fight between a young 20-year-old kid named Ben Rothwell and 25-year-old Johnathan Ivey (Travis Lutter was fighting Jorge Rivera in the main event on this card).

Most people now know Ben Rothwell as the fighter who went undefeated and dominated the IFL heavyweight division as a member of Pat Miletich’s Quad-City Silverbacks. After the IFL shut down it was time for Rothwell to really test himself. He faced former UFC Heavyweight Champion Andrei Arlovski at “Affliction:Banned” in July 2008. It just so happened that the “old Pitbull” decided to show up that night and left Rothwell crumpled on the canvas after a vicious knockout. However, Rothwell bounced back in his next and most recent fight last December at “Adrenaline MMA 2” and finished off one Chris Guillen midway through round one via submission from elbow strikes.

Ben Rothwell who now carries a highly impressive record of 30-6 was 11-2 when entered Tsongas Arena that night in 2002 to face Johnathan Ivey. It was Rothwell’s eighth fight that year; he would go on to fight two more times that year for a total of ten fights. He was a hungry heavyweight well on his way.

Johnathan Ivey made his national TV debut last month at “XFC 8: Regional Conflict” in Knoxville, Tennessee when he took on Chris Barnett. If you are not familiar with Ivey, it is probably because he has never made it to the big stage, it is definitely not because of inactivity. He is the epitome of a “journeyman” fighter and has fought some of the biggest names in the game. His Sherdog record reads 28-38 but he likely has just as many bouts unrecorded.

Ivey hails from Clarksville, Tennessee and is considered a cult hero throughout the South. His athleticism, unorthodox fighting style, in-ring antics, and pro wrestling entrances have consistently been winning over MMA fans for years. When Ivey met up with Rothwell at USMMA 2 his record was 8-11 and it was Ivey’s sixth fight of the year.

No matter what your opinion of Ivey, one thing you have to admire is his commitment to MMA. Even though he has a losing record, even though at one point he lost SIX fights in a row and at another time five in a row, the guy keeps coming back. He has fought multiple times every year since 1998. When you think about those pros that want to retire after losing two or three in a row, one is bound to ask what keeps a guy like Johnathan Ivey coming back time after time? It has to boil down to one simple thing…the guy has fun.

Things to look for: Rothwell’s 2002 pretty boy hairstyle, Ivey’s drunken monkey style, facial expressions, and rolling leg bar submission attempts. Enjoy.

By: Jack Bratcher

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