Robert Drysdale was criticized rather heavily by fans and commentators alike for his actions while cornering one of his fighters, Max Rohskopf, as he took on Austin Hubbard at UFC on ESPN 11. The fight itself went relatively smoothly and there were no issues in the first two rounds of the fight, but between round two and three Rohskopf verbally quit on the stool. The controversy came when Drysdale made the decision to try and convince him to continue on and finish the fight despite having lost both of the first two rounds cleanly. It seems as though the ADCC and IBJJF World Champion may have known from his experience in dealing with the UFC, exactly what Rohskopf’s decision might do to his career.
Many in the MMA community, including Robert Drysdale himself, have defended his actions and used the argument that there is nothing wrong with convincing a fighter to continue, provided they’re not actually being forced to do so. This is something that other prominent figures disagree with and many think that the fact that, as Ariel Helwani pointed out, Rohskopf told his coach that he wanted out nine times, was a clear signal that the fighter was done. Whatever the consensus opinion might be, it seems as though Dana White’s comments at the post-fight interview were a little hint as to what he had in mind for Rohskopf moving forward:
“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. 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. There is no shame in getting here and finding out you’re not it. There’s no shame in that at all.”
Despite sounding somewhat supportive of Rohskopf, he has been now cut from the UFC after just one short-notice fight regardless. For his part, Rohskopf spoke to MMA fighting and appeared to blame noone but himself for his UFC release:
“I’ve done this my whole life,” Rohskopf said. “I’ve self-boycotted myself. Even when I was wrestling in high school, I was the best in the state and ended up getting third because I self-boycotted myself. I was one of the best guys in the country in college, was never an All-American when it counted, because I was telling myself that, for whatever reason, I don’t deserve it.
“That’s exactly what I did in my fight with Austin. Sh*t got hard, and I looked at my coach and said, ‘I don’t want to be here anymore.’ Not because I didn’t want to be there, but because I didn’t think I deserved to be there.”
Only time will tell whether Rohskopf will be destined for another chance at a UFC career and for now, it’s back to the drawing board for both him and Robert Drysdale.