It’s difficult not to immediately associate Max Rohskopf with his disastrous UFC appearance two years ago, which saw him fail to answer the bell for the third round against Austin Hubbard.
But after walking away from MMA ever so briefly, Rohskopf (7-1) returned the following year under the Cage Warriors banner, where he won two straight fights. This Saturday, he’ll make his promotional debut for Bellator MMA in Long Island, CA as part of Bellator 286 — where he takes on the battle-tested Mike Hamel.
It’s a match-up Rohskopf was keen on when speaking with Cageside Press in an exclusive interview recently.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity, and I’m excited that I’m fighting someone who I feel is very tested. It’s a good feeling,” the 27-year old told us. “It’s kind of hard to go in sometimes, especially the regional fights, where you don’t really know how it’s going to go, or it’s like a small show. I feel like I had more pressure on myself when it was Cage Warriors or FFC.”
When it comes to a promotion like Bellator, it’s a little more certain that the fight will happen. That’s key, as Rohskopf saw two dates with Erick Sanchez fall through on the regional scene earlier this year.
“You have more confidence that it’s actually going to happen, and even if an opponent falls out, I have more confidence in them signing a replacement if it’s in their power to do so,” Rohskopf agreed.
Of course, Rohskopf has been on a big stage before. Things did not go well against Austin Hubbard in 2020; after dominating the first round, Rohskopf lost the second. Heading into the third, he told his corner he was unable to continue. He’d later elaborate that internally, he had questioned whether he even deserved to be in the short-notice fight.
Two years on, Rohskopf isn’t entirely at peace with his decision that night, but he has no regrets.
“It kind of depends on what you would define as ‘at peace with.’ I’m still not at peace about sh*t that happened when I was five years old, let alone that,” he explained. “I wouldn’t say at peace about it, but I think that most of the time, I do not have any regrets or anything about it.”
In terms of any changes to his mental preparation and fight camps, “I think I’ve just grown as a human being,” he added.
Preparation ahead of Rohskopf’s return will be looked at for another reason: by the time Bellator 286 rolls around this Saturday, he’ll have been out of action just shy of a year. In terms of ring rust, there’s nothing he’s done specifically to counter it, because there’s just not much you can do about it period.
“You just prepare your mind and your body to the best of your ability when you train, and continue to do that leading all the way up to when the fight starts,” Rohskopf said. “And even when the fight starts. You need to make sure you’re ready to go.”
Despite this being his reintroduction to a wider MMA audience, Max Rohskopf feels no need to go out and make a statement this weekend. “Not at all, because I don’t care about opinions other than the people who I see daily that I care about.”
That’s something of a theme for the lightweight. After his UFC fight, Rohskopf deleted his social media presence. While he’s back on it these days, he mostly posts to promote his upcoming fights.
“I think social media is the cause of a lot of the social problems we have. It’s like a drug, you use it for a quick fix for the attention or to be social, but it’s not real or authentic,” he stated. “I’d rather focus my time and energy on people actually in my life, not people I just see on social media.”
Max Rohskopf faces Mike Hamel this Saturday, October 1, 2022 at Bellator 286 in Long Island, CA.