Robert Drysdale on standing by decision to not call off Max Rohskopf fight, says “his health was never at risk”

Photo: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
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After sparking up some controversy this past weekend, former UFC fighter Robert Drysdale, spoke with ESPN’s Ariel Helwani about the issue regarding Drysdale not stopping the fight for his fighter, Max Rohskopf (5-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC), in between rounds in which he said nine times that he wanted out of the fight.

Three days removed from the situation, Drysdale says that he still stands by his decision, and that Rohskopf wasn’t in any immediate danger as far as his health was concerned.

“One thing that I think the public got misconstrued is that Max’s health was never at risk,” Drysdale said to Helwani. “His safety was never at risk. If Max had seriously hurt himself there, broken a jaw, if he would have lost his vision, I would have jumped over that fence and interrupted that fight before the (referee) could,” he added. “No one in that arena cares more about Max than I do. So I knew that he wasn’t at risk. It was more than just fatigue, he was mentally frustrated, and I wanted to bring him back to life. I wanted to revive him, I wanted to convince him to get back in there, and I had 60 seconds to do it.”

Drysdale further explained the situation from his own perspective during the night of the fight.

“Once (Max) gassed, he broke mentally, and him breaking mentally is what I was upset about,” said Drysdale. “Because that’s not a physical health issue. It is a matter of will, and that’s what I was trying to fix within those 60 seconds, and I did my best. If I had 90 seconds, I would have done it. If I had nine minutes to do it, I would have insisted for nine minutes that he get back in there,” he added. “Because I know deep down he wants to fight. I know that deep down he dreams about that UFC title every day of his life. I know this because I’ve been on the mats with him hundreds of times, and I know that’s what he wants. But in a moment of weakness, he said it on national television, ‘I don’t wanna be here.’ But I know that’s not the case, he wants to be there. That’s what he talks about all the time. It was a moment of weakness in which (Max) was exposed on national television, and I think people got the wrong message.”

During the interview, Drysdale did confirm that he has been in contact with Max and Max’s mother since the fight, and both told him that they believe he did the right thing on Saturday night.

“(Max) called me, and I asked him, ‘are you okay with how I’m dealing with all of this,’ because I don’t feel like I did the wrong thing by (not) listening to him right away,” said Drysdale. “I think I did the right thing, and his position was, ‘you’re right.’ He didn’t articulate on it, perhaps it’s very soon for him to fully be able to grasp what happened. But I think it’s gonna be one of those things where maybe a year from now, he’s gonna look back and he’s gonna go, ‘yeah, thank you coach, you did the right thing.’ His mother messaged me and she agreed with me as well,” he added.

As is stands right now, the executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission came out with a statement regarding the incident, stating that it may be something that they look to take disciplinary action on.

Drysdale told Helwani that despite the comment made by the commission, he still stands by his position on the matter. Stating that he still believes that this was not a matter of safety.

“Max was not injured. If this were about safety, I would have been the first one to want to stop that fight. This was not a matter of safety, (and) if it were I think the commission would be correct in this case,” said Drysdale.

As for Max, he came into the UFC a highly regarded prospect. Hopefully when it’s all said and done, this will have been just another speed bump in his career.

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