It will be fun to see how the Zagreb crowd at Sunday's FS1 UFC Fight Night card react to stars like Ben Rothwell. If the reception he got during a media tour in Croatia a couple months ago is any indication, the Wisconsin fighter believes he's got lots of love in Eastern Europe.
"I was pretty surprised by the fans. They've never had a UFC event there before but as soon as I got off the plane and out of the airport I had people pointing, shouting and smiling, 'Rothwell!' It was pretty cool," he tells FOX Sports.
It would seem as though the violent swath the Kenosha Killer has cut through the UFC's heavyweight division over the past few years has gotten attention around the globe. Rothwell has beaten his last four opponents, and five out of his last six.
More from FoxSports
All of those wins, over the likes of Alistair Overeem and Josh Barnett, were won by stoppage. Should Rothwell beat Junior Dos Santos in Sunday's main event just as decisively, he would have to be considered the No. 1 contender at heavyweight.
In fact, the fighter has believed he's ready for a title shot for some time now. Given some of his past comments, it may seem as though he felt underappreciated and underpromoted by the UFC.
On the heels of a media tour and now with a main event against another former world champ, Rothwell is finally getting featured in a manner commensurate with his achievements.
Still, he is philosophical and humble when asked if he's finally feeling "listened to" by the UFC. "To put it that way is not really fair," he admits.
"I'm real. I'm a fan and when I watch fights and I don't like the way they go, I'm right there booing with the rest. The difference that separates me is that I don't just fight to win. Winning is a part of it, but I fight to give people a lasting memory. And it takes time to accomplish that. Words only mean so much. Actions speak for me.
"With that train of thought, when you win one and then lose one, you shouldn't be rewarded. Yeah, I've been around, but the beginning of my career in the UFC was not so hot."
From 2009 to early 2013, Rothwell went 2-3. It has taken him time to work out of that hole.
Now that he's close to reaching a new level, he believes it is happening at the right time. "I wasn't myself at the start. I was still finding myself," he continued.
"I was never disappointed when other guys got their shots because I thought, 'No, they earned it.' Now, it is happening. It is happening like it should."