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Rohskopf stoppage controversy: Drysdale claims ‘I did call the fight at the last second’

In a new statement released on Instagram, coach Robert Drysdale further explains what happened at the controversial end of his fighter Max Rohskopf’s bout.

The end of the Austin Hubbard vs. Max Rohskopf fight continues to generate controversy and attention after footage went viral of Rohskopf’s coach Robert Drysdale ignoring Rohskopf’s pleas to call the fight between the second and third rounds. At this point it’s the biggest story to come out of UFC on ESPN 11 by a long shot, with it being picked up by mainstream outlets like Washington Post.

Drysdale responded directly to some MMA media outlets regarding the situation, defending his actions as those of a coach doing what good coaches do, which is encourage their athletes to fight through adversity. The response to his initial comments hasn’t calmed down the wave of criticism coming his way so now he’s taking his message directly to the people in the form of a video statement on Instagram.

“I stand by what I did,” Drysdale says in the video. “I gave him the mental push that he needed. I would expect the exact same thing from him if he were 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. It’s to make sure they’re being giving the best version of themselves.”

“Had he had been seriously injured, I would have been the first one to stop that fight,” he continued. “I would’ve stopped that fight before anyone else. No one cares about him more than I do other than his immediate family. He’s been living with me for two years, I’ve been putting a lot of time and energy into Max. And it doesn’t change how I feel about him. But I know him, and I know he wasn’t seriously hurt, I know he was not in harm’s way. He was just frustrated.

“I was trying to give him a push to make sure he overcame that frustration because I still believe he could have won the fight,” he continued. “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. And that’s what I was trying to get him to do.”

Then Drysdale claims he actually did stop the fight.

“If you pay close attention, I did call the fight at the very last second,” he said. “I did the right thing. I exhausted the 60 seconds and at the very last second, I called it. Because strategically, that was the correct thing to do. So I don’t regret my decision at all.”

That certainly changes the entire situation. But the video certainly doesn’t show that. I’m not saying it didn’t happen. Just that the video I’ve seen doesn’t back it up. And if that’s the case, why spend so much time defending the act of not calling the fight rather than just starting out by saying you actually did call the fight? Is this all just a big misunderstanding? Or is the media to blame?

“I think there’s a lot of hype from the media, not only people that don’t understand fighting but people that don’t understand journalism,” Drysdale concluded. “Which is ... if you’re a journalist you should at least understand journalism. I think journalism comes with a degree of honesty to the detriment of sensationalism. And I think some people are so worried about clicks and algorithms that they’ll make a stand for just about anything to get attention. I despise that position, I think you should stand by some code of ethics that I don’t see in journalism today.”

“The video is edited in such a way that there’s no context, he wasn’t severely injured, he clearly wasn’t. But it is what it is. I hope the UFC gives him another shot, I know he’s a champion. And this doesn’t change how I feel about him one bit.”

Drysdale is certainly getting some serious first hand experience in what it’s like to be the sensationalist clickbait topic du jour as the Internet grills him over a “Prelims” undercard fight barely anyone knew was happening until ESPN shared video of the controversial ending.

But, as he says in his own statement, a lot of critique is love.

We love MMA. We care about the up-and-coming fighters on these cards. I have a lot of respect for Robert Drysdale and his accomplishments and his devotion to his guys and clearly Rohskopf in particular. There’s a lot of debate on when it is or isn’t okay to throw the towel in for a fighter, and it’s an important debate to have because it’s a health and safety issue. If we don’t talk about it, the culture that encourages corners to push their fighters back into battle when it’s clear they’re done won’t change.

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