When it comes to Max Rohskoph, there is certainly more than what the eye initially sees. Sure the hype is easy to pick up on as he entered the sport after a prolific wrestling career at North Carolina State (NC State). But peeling back a few layers offers insights to what truly makes him tick and why his hype is truly deserved.
Growing up, Rohskoph did not lead an ideal life. He was in a home that should not have raised a child and it led him to get into trouble himself. Thankfully, he found wrestling which turned into his refuge and way out as Michael Fiedel does an excellent job of explaining. As Rohskoph explains, he needed wrestling to create an identity to break the cycle of trouble his family and him lived in and he desperately wanted out of it.
“It was right when I started wrestling I found something that was an identity for me. Like this is who I am this is who I can be. But you gotta be able to find that and I don’t know and I said it on Phone Booth Fighting (podcast), there’s always been something inside of me that knew that’s not how you were supposed to live your life. And I don’t know if other people feel like that or not. I don’t know if that’s a trait or characteristic that’s unique to me or like me that break the cycle. Very more often than not they’re not able to. It was never a fight for me, it was always a very easy decision. I knew living like that wasn’t right and it was going to end up getting me in trouble when I was older.”
“I was the worst kid in our whole county, I was as bad as you possibly can be. As bad as you can’t turn around from that is what you can think. I don’t know if it’s something inside of me or something that is taught.”
Whether it was taught or not, it worked. He managed to get through high school and into NC State. He didn’t arrive with a scholarship but he did find success on the mats quickly. It was also during his freshman year that he found jiu jitsu and boxing thanks to NC State alum Sean Spangler.
“He actually visited to come in and train, he was coming in to wrestle with us. Then he invited all of us and I was the only one who took him up on it.”
But it wasn’t the first time Rohskoph thought about fighting for a living, it was right before he entered college that it crossed his brain. In his head however, he didn’t truly believe it was a possibility.
“It was probably right when I got to college when I started opening my eyes and seeing what was possible. Being from a small town and…when I was the one kid from our high school to go to a big division one school as an athlete that was a surprise because I wasn’t the most athletic kid, I wasn’t a straight A student, I was always in trouble and stuff like that. I was least likely to be someone like that. And so I didn’t have a lot of high expectations for myself. But once I got to college and I was kind of away from what I was from, it just opened up my eyes to what I can do.”
That attitude has been a blessing and a curse for Rohskoph. He has always had a chip on his shoulder which has driven him to great success, however he didn’t always allow for others to see how he really was, not really allowing for people to get close to him and unlike being in a small town where everyone knew his business, people didn’t know how he grew up. It wasn’t until he opened up about his story that people started to understand him.
“The first time it was actually brought up outside of my community was Taylor Miller wrote a really, really good article. She contacted NC State and she had heard I might be a good story to do something on. I was an up and coming guy, I wasn’t a highly recruited or anything, I was just kinda a darkhorse I guess. Going into the next season, I was ranked fifth in the country the year before, I was going into the season ranked like third, some people thought I was going to be able to compete for a national title and she had just heard rumors that I would be a good story. So she contacted me and I kinda opened up to her with the USA Wrestling article. And that was the first-time people really heard that. I thought it was funny because…I always had kinda a chip on my shoulder when I was at NC State and some people in the athletic department thought I was weird because I wouldn’t let people get close to me and I would always…I have a low tolerance for bullshit so there would be people lying or saying things that were F**cked up and I would call them out on it and they always thought I had a temper. When that story came out and they had no idea about it, it all kinda made sense and people had more respect for me after it came out.”
However a lack of respect wasn’t because of his work ethic, Rohskoph would train wrestling, jiu jitsu and boxing throughout his summers and was in a gym nearly six times a week every week. Overtraining did have its consequences when he tore his labrum freshman year of college. It would dislocate all the time and he didn’t seek the correct rehab to fix it without surgery. The training wasn’t good for his shoulder and it affected his wrestling technique because he couldn’t get underneath anyone for a shot without dislocating it. He wanted to get surgery to fix it but his coaches disagreed because they wanted him to wrestle and not affect the incoming freshman class behind him. He decided to get the surgery anyway. However, seven months in he was invited to an all-star wrestling event but it was too early for him to return and he decided being an All-American wasn’t worth hurting his chance to make money fighting later on, especially since he still wasn’t on a scholarship. So he dropped out of school and pursued fighting.
He did however stay in Raleigh to train at least initially. Then when he needed training partners he moved to Wilmington to train with John Salter and Derek Brunson who trained there on occasion. But it wasn’t enough as he felt he was outgrowing the gym. Rohskoph then spoke with his friend Spangler who was living in Vegas at the time and he helped make a few introductions. It was then that he decided to make Vegas his new home, despite a legend of MMA recruiting him elsewhere.
“Once I visited I met Robert Follis and I was actually talking to Jacob Kasper and Daniel Cormier about possibly moving to AKA, at the same time I met Robert Follis in Vegas, once I talked to Robert and kinda talked to some other people and got their opinions and stuff I decided to go Vegas was going to be the right place for me to go and I definitely think that was the right decision.”
Since moving to Vegas, Rohskoph has found quite a bit of success, he is 3-0 as a professional fighter with all of his fights ending via a finish. He also helps coach several UFC fighters and teaches classes at Drysdale Jiu Jitsu and Xtreme Couture, including Frank Mir’s children. Mir met Rohskoph when Rohskoph was teaching a wrestling class and the two got along quite well. So well, that Mir took Rohskoph to speak at Brandon Marshall’s camp for kids to share his story. Mir even helps narrate Rohskoph’s trailer for his story on YouTube.
Being friends with MMA legends, inspiring kids and playing Assasains Creed (his preferred Sunday activity) hasn’t distracted him at all as proven by his previously mentioned record. He looks to improve upon that record on September 5 at Final Fight Championship 40 (FFC) when he takes on Contender Series veteran Zach Zane. Rohskoph had a rough time finding an opponent having multiple fighters turn the fight down and it was only on September 2 that someone actually accepted the fight. The switching of opponents doesn’t bother Rohskoph at all.
“Changing the matchup doesn’t change my training at all. I’m training for the best guys in the world, I have to stick to what I’m good at regardless. Game plans are for people who aren’t as good.”
As far as how he’ll win the fight, it’s quite simple, submission.
“Sub, I want all sub finishes. Guys wake up from being KO’d and still wanna fight. You take them down and dominate them…that’s the worst feeling in the world. I want them to never want to fight him again.”