Robert Drysdale Responds to Criticism, Stands By Corner Work at UFC on ESPN 11

By Marcelo Alonso and Tristen Critchfield Jun 22, 2020

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Robert Drysdale has come under fire for his handling of Octagon newcomer Max Rohskopf at UFC on ESPN 11 this past Saturday.

After being battered for much of the second round of his lightweight bout with Austin Hubbard, Rohskopf can be overheard asking for the fight to be halted. Drysdale, the fighter’s head coach, responded by prodding Rohskopf to continue: “Stop it. You’re a champion.”

Ultimately, Rohskopf’s reluctance to keep fighting caught the attention of referee Mark Smith, and the bout was halted before the beginning of Round 3. The Nevada State Athletic Commission has since confirmed that it will look into taking disciplinary action against Rohskopf’s corner.

In a video posted on his Instagram account on Sunday, Drysdale responded to the criticism of his coaching techniques. Drysdale, who is a decorated jiu-jitsu practitioner and a former UFC competitor, stood by his decision to push Rohskopf to keep fighting past the second round. If any mistake was made, Drysdale said, it was accepting a fight on less than one week’s notice and pushing hard for the finish in the opening round, which ultimately led to Rohskopf gassing badly in Round 2.

“I stand by what I did,” Drysdale said. “I gave him the mental push that he needed. I would expect the exact same thing from him if he was in my shoes – or any of my coaches for that matter. I expect nothing but greatness from the people around me. If they’re critiquing me, that’s love. That’s true love. That’s the only way to show you care for someone is to make sure they’re giving the best version of themselves.

“Had he had been seriously injured, I would have been the first one to stop that fight. I would’ve stopped that fight before anyone else. No one cares about him more than I do other than his immediate family.”

Drysdale went on to add that Rohskopf’s mindset was based on frustration more than any serious physical danger. The coach believes his fighter still had a chance to pull out a decision victory if he had been able to win the third round.

“I know he wasn’t seriously hurt,” Drysdale said. “I know he was not in harm’s way. He was just frustrated. I was trying to give him a push so he overcame that frustration because I still believe he could have won the fight. I felt he won the first round. I don’t see how he lost the first round. He definitely lost the second. I think he thought he could’ve turned it in the third. Even if not in an exciting matter, he could have won a decision. That’s what I was trying to get him to do.”

Drysdale claims that it was actually his decision to call off the fight, but he was giving Rohskopf the longest amount of time he possibly could to continue the bout.

“If you pay close attention, I did call the fight at the very last second,” Drysdale said. “I did the right thing. I exhausted the 60 seconds and at the very last second, I called it. Strategically, that was the correct thing to do. So I don’t regret my decision at all. I think there’s a lot of hype from the media. Not only from people that don’t understand fighting, but people that don’t understand journalism.

“…I think you should stand by some code of ethics that you don’t see in journalism today,” Drysdale continued. “The video is edited in a way that there is no context. It looks like he’s severely injured and clearly, he wasn’t. There needs to be more context to these things. But, it is what it is. I hope the UFC gives him another shot. I know he’s a champion. That doesn’t change how I feel about him one bit.”

In closing, Drysdale calls out the “haters” for what he perceives to be a lack of knowledge about the sport and reiterates his confidence in Rohskopf’s long-term ability to succeed.

“… As for the haters, the only thing I recommend is that you give it a try one day. It’s easier said than done,” he said. “You don’t see me writing critiques on academic papers on quantum physics. You know why? Because I don’t understand quantum physics. You don’t see me making critical statements about basketball or football – because I never played basketball or football. I barely understand any aspect of it, so I keep it to myself. I try to focus on the things I do understand. I do understand fighting. Max was apt. He is apt to be a champion. I have no doubts about that.”

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