After disastrous UFC outing, Max Rohskopf explains MMA comeback at Cage Warriors 

Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLCMost of the fighters Max Rohskopf knew gained weight when they stopped fighting. Slow that engine down, and it stopped burning all that fuel. For Rohskopf, it was quite the opposite. He lost 15 pounds in the six months he “didn’t do a damn thing” after a disastrous UFC debut in which he quit on the stool and was released from contract. Friends knew he wasn’t done. He was the guy who sweat for every improvement in technique, the guy who treated training like he was squeezing pennies out of a ClassPass, the guy who’d do 20 workouts a week unless coaches stopped him. Until he learned some of his teammates needed help training for fights, he didn’t know that he’d ever return to MMA. “I’d go in, I’d go 10 minutes, and I’d go, ‘F*ck this, why am I even doing this sh*t?’ It was the first time in my life where I didn’t even want to train,” Rohskopf told MMAFighting. Familiarity – and a good dose of boredom – brought the 26-year-old fighter back into the fold. At the time, he was scraping by coaching kids’ wrestling and offering private lessons to would-be fighters. When his training partners were booked for fights, it offered an incentive to work out on the regular. Five months after he figured he could be “at the bare minimum, a good training partner,” he is making his comeback against Jeff Creighton at a Cage Warriors 126, which takes place tonight at Humphreys by the Bay in San Diego and airs on UFC Fight Pass. Rohskopf said it was as simple as calling his manager and asking for a fight. Ask him why he’s doing this now, after all this controversy and upheaval, and he can’t answer definitively. It’s been more than 13 months since his loss to Hubbard turned his career upside down. The easiest answer is that fighting is what he knows. “I could go have a career in something else,” he said. “If I wanted a job making $80,000 to $100,000 a year and get a house and build my credit up, I could do that later. I only have so much time to chase a fighting career, and I love it. I look forward to going to train every day.” There’s another answer that speaks more to Rohskopf’s character. Long before he stepped into the cage that night, he said, he was wounded in a way that went beyond the physical traumas that accompany this sport and a short-notice fight offer from the UFC. Growing up in an abusive household in Holmes County, Ohio, was the thing that made him want to fight back, and that feeling never went away. “I was always told that I was a f*cking piece of sh*t, and I wasn’t worth anything,” he said. “As I’ve gotten older, I’ve tried to hide it. It’s 100 percent what eats at me, even 15 years later.” It just so happened that all of those traumas worked against him that night, and the result played out in front of television cameras on the biggest platform in MMA. But there’s nothing he can do about that now. One of these days, Rohskopf said, he’ll write about what happened to him before that fateful fight and about all the things he had to overcome just to get to the octagon. For now, he’ll try to use all of it like it should be used - for his benefit. “I’ve probably gotta see a therapist from the sh*t that happened, and not just the UFC,” he jokes. None of the team that was with him that night in the UFC APEX has left his side. He still places his faith in Robert Drysdale, the jiu-jitsu coach that was widely criticized for trying to talk him out of his decision on the stool. If anything, they’ve grown closer. There was a fight camp for his Cage Warriors date instead of a bunch of training sessions strung together. “It’s nice having people tell me what to do, when to do it,” Rohskopf said. In its own way, coaching kids’ wrestling might also bring new perspective. When he steps onto the mats with young grapplers, there’s none of the pressure that accompanies later life. There’s just a lot of drills and a lot of yelling. “These kids are 6 to 10 years away from wrestling actually mattering,’ he said, his voice still hoarse from a recent practice. ”No one gives a crap about a national title at 10 years old.” Not giving a crap is a good goal to have, even if it’s pretty unrealistic for a cage fight. “I don’t want to say I don’t give a f*ck, because I give a f*ck, but at the end of the day, it’s still a sport,” Rohskopf said. “I don’t feel like it defines me as a person. I still treat people the right way and try to be the best person I can be, no matter what I’m doing.”

After disastrous UFC outing, Max Rohskopf explains MMA comeback at Cage Warriors 
Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Most of the fighters Max Rohskopf knew gained weight when they stopped fighting. Slow that engine down, and it stopped burning all that fuel.

For Rohskopf, it was quite the opposite. He lost 15 pounds in the six months he “didn’t do a damn thing” after a disastrous UFC debut in which he quit on the stool and was released from contract.

Friends knew he wasn’t done. He was the guy who sweat for every improvement in technique, the guy who treated training like he was squeezing pennies out of a ClassPass, the guy who’d do 20 workouts a week unless coaches stopped him. Until he learned some of his teammates needed help training for fights, he didn’t know that he’d ever return to MMA.

“I’d go in, I’d go 10 minutes, and I’d go, ‘F*ck this, why am I even doing this sh*t?’ It was the first time in my life where I didn’t even want to train,” Rohskopf told MMAFighting.

Familiarity – and a good dose of boredom – brought the 26-year-old fighter back into the fold. At the time, he was scraping by coaching kids’ wrestling and offering private lessons to would-be fighters. When his training partners were booked for fights, it offered an incentive to work out on the regular.

Five months after he figured he could be “at the bare minimum, a good training partner,” he is making his comeback against Jeff Creighton at a Cage Warriors 126, which takes place tonight at Humphreys by the Bay in San Diego and airs on UFC Fight Pass. Rohskopf said it was as simple as calling his manager and asking for a fight.

Ask him why he’s doing this now, after all this controversy and upheaval, and he can’t answer definitively. It’s been more than 13 months since his loss to Hubbard turned his career upside down. The easiest answer is that fighting is what he knows.

“I could go have a career in something else,” he said. “If I wanted a job making $80,000 to $100,000 a year and get a house and build my credit up, I could do that later. I only have so much time to chase a fighting career, and I love it. I look forward to going to train every day.”

There’s another answer that speaks more to Rohskopf’s character. Long before he stepped into the cage that night, he said, he was wounded in a way that went beyond the physical traumas that accompany this sport and a short-notice fight offer from the UFC. Growing up in an abusive household in Holmes County, Ohio, was the thing that made him want to fight back, and that feeling never went away.

“I was always told that I was a f*cking piece of sh*t, and I wasn’t worth anything,” he said. “As I’ve gotten older, I’ve tried to hide it. It’s 100 percent what eats at me, even 15 years later.”

It just so happened that all of those traumas worked against him that night, and the result played out in front of television cameras on the biggest platform in MMA. But there’s nothing he can do about that now.

One of these days, Rohskopf said, he’ll write about what happened to him before that fateful fight and about all the things he had to overcome just to get to the octagon. For now, he’ll try to use all of it like it should be used - for his benefit.

“I’ve probably gotta see a therapist from the sh*t that happened, and not just the UFC,” he jokes.

None of the team that was with him that night in the UFC APEX has left his side. He still places his faith in Robert Drysdale, the jiu-jitsu coach that was widely criticized for trying to talk him out of his decision on the stool. If anything, they’ve grown closer. There was a fight camp for his Cage Warriors date instead of a bunch of training sessions strung together.

“It’s nice having people tell me what to do, when to do it,” Rohskopf said.

In its own way, coaching kids’ wrestling might also bring new perspective. When he steps onto the mats with young grapplers, there’s none of the pressure that accompanies later life. There’s just a lot of drills and a lot of yelling.

“These kids are 6 to 10 years away from wrestling actually mattering,’ he said, his voice still hoarse from a recent practice. ”No one gives a crap about a national title at 10 years old.”

Not giving a crap is a good goal to have, even if it’s pretty unrealistic for a cage fight.

“I don’t want to say I don’t give a f*ck, because I give a f*ck, but at the end of the day, it’s still a sport,” Rohskopf said. “I don’t feel like it defines me as a person. I still treat people the right way and try to be the best person I can be, no matter what I’m doing.”

Source : MMA Fighting More   

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Patricio Freire reacts to McKee loss, asks for potential lightweight rematch to happen in Brazil

Photo by Hans Gutknecht/MediaNews Group/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty ImagesFormer Bellator featherweight champion Patricio Freire isn’t going to complain about the way his Bellator 263 main event played out against A.J. McKee. “On this night, he was great,” Freire said Saturday night in his post-fight press conference. “He kicked my head and he almost knocked me out and he almost finished me on the same night, so he was good. Congratulations. Now he’s the champion.” Freire lost to McKee via technical submission less than two minutes into the first round in the blockbuster finals of Bellator’s featherweight grand prix. McKee first downed Freire with a head kick before finishing Freire off with a guillotine choke to win the $1 million grand prize along with the Bellator featherweight title. Freire never tapped to McKee’s submission, however referee Mike Beltran stopped the action just seconds after McKee told Beltran that Freire was unconscious. Freire initially protested the stoppage inside the cage, but after watching the replay, he indicated that he was willing to accept Beltran’s decision, even if he didn’t necessarily like it. “I watched the fight. I knew I wasn’t asleep, but I saw my hands [start to drop],” Freire said. “I was standing, but that’s it. A fighter wants to fight until the end. That’s my mind.” The loss marked an end to a seven-fight win streak that stretched back 2016 for Freire, as well as being the first time in Freire’s 17-year career that the Brazilian has been finished. Heading into Bellator 263, “Pitbull” was widely considered to be the greatest fighter in Bellator history as well as the promotion’s most decorated champion. He still holds records for the most wins (20), fights (24), title bouts (12), title wins (10), and finishes in Bellator history (13), and indicated that his loss to McKee would only make him better in the long run. “I am always motivated. My debut was in 2004, and now I have a lot of years fighting and dedicating myself to this game, and I am hungry every time,” Freire said. “I spent a lot of years without being defeated, and today is a new day for me. It’s a different kind of feeling, and I want to rest a little bit, enjoy my son, my wife. But I will come back stronger. I know that. Everyone says that when they get a defeat, but I am different.” Fortunately, Freire will likely get his chance at revenge. Despite the loss, the 34-year-old remains the Bellator lightweight champion — and with McKee already angling for a rematch at 155 pounds with Freire’s other belt on the line, it appears as if the seeds are already being planted for round two between the two rivals. “Before the fight I think he told somebody something like this, and it’s a good thing,” Freire said. “He beat me in the featherweight division. I know he’s big, he has trouble cutting weight. And let’s think about it. I have a belt. I’m still a world champion.” If the rematch does happen at 155 pounds, Freire’s team made just one request. Bellator 263 took place in McKee’s home town of Los Angeles and the crowd assembled at The Forum on Saturday night was largely behind McKee. For a potential second fight, Freire’s team simply hopes that favor can be repaid to their side as well. “If we do something like that, this time I’d like it to be in Brazil,” said Freire’s head coach Eric Albarracin. “This guy’s been here for 10 years, double champ-champ, winningest fighter in Bellator history, most title defenses. Why are we fighting in Los Angeles? He’s the champ-champ. We’re fighting in the challenger’s hometown? Great, he won, give it all to him — he slept in his own bed, his dad’s a legend here, born and raised here, he’s born and raised here, 99 percent of the fans cheering for A.J., we’re in his house. Yet [Freire] is double champ-champ? Great, he won. Let’s do it in Brazil next. For one time, bring it to Brazil for the champ. “Sixteen games in the NFL are played to get a home field advantage, 180 in baseball,” Albarracin continued. “He’s the world champ-champ. You ask a warrior, ‘Hey, where you want to fight?’ They say anywhere, any time. But obviously not in the home town of the challenger, giving him all the advantages — the youth, the range, the reach, and then throw all the home field advantage, where he’s sleeping and training in his own gym. We traveled 36 hours to get here. Let’s switch it up one time.” Albarracin’s proposal ultimately drew a smile and a nod of approval from Freire. “That’s why he’s my coach,” Freire said. “I need someone like him. He’s right, I agree.”

Patricio Freire reacts to McKee loss, asks for potential lightweight rematch to happen in Brazil
Photo by Hans Gutknecht/MediaNews Group/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images

Former Bellator featherweight champion Patricio Freire isn’t going to complain about the way his Bellator 263 main event played out against A.J. McKee.

“On this night, he was great,” Freire said Saturday night in his post-fight press conference. “He kicked my head and he almost knocked me out and he almost finished me on the same night, so he was good. Congratulations. Now he’s the champion.”

Freire lost to McKee via technical submission less than two minutes into the first round in the blockbuster finals of Bellator’s featherweight grand prix. McKee first downed Freire with a head kick before finishing Freire off with a guillotine choke to win the $1 million grand prize along with the Bellator featherweight title.

Freire never tapped to McKee’s submission, however referee Mike Beltran stopped the action just seconds after McKee told Beltran that Freire was unconscious. Freire initially protested the stoppage inside the cage, but after watching the replay, he indicated that he was willing to accept Beltran’s decision, even if he didn’t necessarily like it.

“I watched the fight. I knew I wasn’t asleep, but I saw my hands [start to drop],” Freire said. “I was standing, but that’s it. A fighter wants to fight until the end. That’s my mind.”

The loss marked an end to a seven-fight win streak that stretched back 2016 for Freire, as well as being the first time in Freire’s 17-year career that the Brazilian has been finished.

Heading into Bellator 263, “Pitbull” was widely considered to be the greatest fighter in Bellator history as well as the promotion’s most decorated champion. He still holds records for the most wins (20), fights (24), title bouts (12), title wins (10), and finishes in Bellator history (13), and indicated that his loss to McKee would only make him better in the long run.

“I am always motivated. My debut was in 2004, and now I have a lot of years fighting and dedicating myself to this game, and I am hungry every time,” Freire said.

“I spent a lot of years without being defeated, and today is a new day for me. It’s a different kind of feeling, and I want to rest a little bit, enjoy my son, my wife. But I will come back stronger. I know that. Everyone says that when they get a defeat, but I am different.”

Fortunately, Freire will likely get his chance at revenge.

Despite the loss, the 34-year-old remains the Bellator lightweight champion — and with McKee already angling for a rematch at 155 pounds with Freire’s other belt on the line, it appears as if the seeds are already being planted for round two between the two rivals.

“Before the fight I think he told somebody something like this, and it’s a good thing,” Freire said. “He beat me in the featherweight division. I know he’s big, he has trouble cutting weight. And let’s think about it. I have a belt. I’m still a world champion.”

If the rematch does happen at 155 pounds, Freire’s team made just one request.

Bellator 263 took place in McKee’s home town of Los Angeles and the crowd assembled at The Forum on Saturday night was largely behind McKee. For a potential second fight, Freire’s team simply hopes that favor can be repaid to their side as well.

“If we do something like that, this time I’d like it to be in Brazil,” said Freire’s head coach Eric Albarracin. “This guy’s been here for 10 years, double champ-champ, winningest fighter in Bellator history, most title defenses. Why are we fighting in Los Angeles? He’s the champ-champ. We’re fighting in the challenger’s hometown? Great, he won, give it all to him — he slept in his own bed, his dad’s a legend here, born and raised here, he’s born and raised here, 99 percent of the fans cheering for A.J., we’re in his house. Yet [Freire] is double champ-champ? Great, he won. Let’s do it in Brazil next. For one time, bring it to Brazil for the champ.

“Sixteen games in the NFL are played to get a home field advantage, 180 in baseball,” Albarracin continued. “He’s the world champ-champ. You ask a warrior, ‘Hey, where you want to fight?’ They say anywhere, any time. But obviously not in the home town of the challenger, giving him all the advantages — the youth, the range, the reach, and then throw all the home field advantage, where he’s sleeping and training in his own gym. We traveled 36 hours to get here. Let’s switch it up one time.”

Albarracin’s proposal ultimately drew a smile and a nod of approval from Freire.

“That’s why he’s my coach,” Freire said. “I need someone like him. He’s right, I agree.”

Source : MMA Fighting More   

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