Highly touted prospect Max Rohskopf had a rough night in his UFC debut after he asked for his fight against Austin Hubbard to be stopped between the second and third rounds.
Despite a fast start, Rohskopf wasn’t able to secure a finish after multiple submission attempts and Hubbard began chipping away at him with a barrage of strikes. As the second round came to an end, Rohskopf went back to his corner with blood streaming down his face and told his coaches that he could no longer continue.
While his chief cornerman Robert Drysdale tried to convince him to go back out for the final five minutes, Rohskopf was emphatic that he was done and referee Mark Smith finally waived off the fight.
Afterwards, UFC President Dana White stood by Rohskopf’s decision to stop the fight while firing back at anyone who criticized the move.
“Let me tell you what, in this f*king sport, if you’re done, you’re done,” White said at the UFC on ESPN 11 post-fight press conference. “You should absolutely be able to quit. I know that it’s frowned upon but guess what? Anybody that would talk sht about you quitting, isn’t in there fighting. It’s real easy to be a critic. What these kids do is a whole other level.
“As the guy who runs this organization, as the guy who’s involved in the matchmaking and everything else, you see these kids, we deal with managers from all over the world, they’re like ‘this guy’s the guy, this guy’s the guy!’ When you get here, this is a whole different level and that guy’s not ready and he might not ever be ready.”
While the result certainly didn’t go his way, Rohskopf did accept the fight on less than a week’s notice before making his UFC debut. According to his manager, the former North Carolina State wrestler was also dealing with an existing injury that likely slowed him down as well.
“Max suffered from fatigue due to the short notice weight cut combined with a pre-existing turf toe injury and was not able to overcome both,” Brian Butler of Suckerpunch Entertainment said in a message sent to MMA Fighting. “Didn’t think the turf toe would become an issue but combined with the fatigue he just couldn’t keep going. He is going to take some time off to heal up.”
White understands how easy it might be to judge Rohskopf from the outside looking in but noted that real fighters understand the difficulty that surrounds the sport, especially when competing in the UFC.
“I’ve told you guys this many times before, I believed back in the day that I was a fighter and I wanted to do this and that and one day I found out that I wasn’t,” White said. “The realization was that I wasn’t. When you find out, you need to walk away. I’m not saying that’s the case with this kid, but if that kid felt like he needed to quit tonight, who the f**k is anybody to judge him on that?
“He had the balls to come here and fight and take a short notice fight in the UFC. Period.”
As far as what comes next for Rohskopf, White wasn’t ready to commit to anything just yet.
First things first, he feels like the 25-year-old prospect will have to do some soul searching after Saturday night before deciding what he wants for the future.
“He’s got to get up tomorrow morning and look at himself in the mirror and figure out who he is and what he wants to do,” White said. “There is no shame in getting here and finding out you’re not it. There’s no shame in that at all.
“You gave it a shot, it didn’t work out. Anybody who would try to ridicule a kid like that, f*ck you. Come try it. Come try and do what he did tonight. Very few people can do it.”
When it comes to Rohskopf’s coaches trying to send him back out to the third round despite his insistence that he was done, the Nevada State Athletic Commission will actually be investigating what exactly unfolded on Saturday night.
“That’s something we will take a look at,” NSAC executive director Bob Bennett told ESPN. “We might want to take disciplinary action on them. That doesn’t sound like they are looking out for a fighter. Obviously, he didn’t want to come out [and fight].”