Max Rohskopf has learned through painful experience that there are some events in a person’s life that you’ll never truly get past.
At first glance that might seem like the 28-year-old prospect is referencing his lone fight in the UFC, which ended after he refused to answer the call for the third round; the loss ultimately led to his dismissal from the promotion. However, this is not the truth.
In reality, what partially led to that moment – and so many other times when Rohskopf was haunted by self-doubt – stems from severe childhood trauma he never knew how to deal with until more recently.
” When I was young, my parents told me that I was part of the ***,” Rohskopf revelations on The Fighter vs. The Writer. “From the time I was born until I was damn near 18. I will not let it go from my mind.
“No matter what anyone tells me I can do, or no matter how good of a practice I do or how good of a fight I have, I’m always going to [have it] in the back of my mind ‘I could do better.’ It’s just a little bit of a sickness.”
Rohskopf said the same issues that have plagued him in MMA also did in wrestling, where he was a standout at North Carolina State. There, he never quite lived up to his own expectations.
It’s only been through extensive study and recognizing those triggers that he’s been able to battle back against the constant belief that he’ll never be good enough at whatever he’s doing.
Rohskopf stated that he has done extensive research on childhood trauma and the effects it can have on one’s brain. “Even if it’s something that only happens one time when you’re 4 [years old], it can affect you when you’re older into your adult life.
” It’s certainly real. There’s not a lot you can do about it. It’s possible to learn to accept it .”
It’s hard to know if Rohskopf can truly learn to accept the hurt he has suffered. But he’s starting to better understand himself, at least where his fighting career is concerned.
Following that dark moment in the UFC where he was forever branded as a quitter, Rohskopf walked away from the sport with no intention to ever compete again.
“I was completely done,” he revealed. “I didn’t train for like eight months at all. I wouldn’t even go to the gym at all. I was working, I started coaching, I was doing a lot of different stuff. I was completely done.
“Just decided with some help with some friends just to get back on the horse and that’s what I did. Would I say [this is Max Rohskopf] 2.0? It’s hard to say. It’s difficult to know before you actually do. Even in my Cage Warriors’ fights, I didn’t really perform the best that I can.”
When Rohskopf decided to compete again, he was signed to Cage Warriors, where he won back-to-back fights, the first a ground-and-pound finish, and the second a lopsided unanimous decision. But he wasn’t content.
In fact, Rohskopf says he was still contemplating being done with the sport for good, even after picking up those two victories.
” For my two first fights in Cage Warriors back, I hated ****** it,” Rohskopf stated. “I was losing my mind every day at practice. You can see my fighting afterward and you will find that I am not content.
” I remember going over to my coaches, saying, “F*** this. I don’t want f ****** to be here.” I won both .”
Nearly one year has passed since Rohskopf’s last fight. In that time Rohskopf learned to enjoy the sport differently and also to deal with his mental illness.
Because he was constantly filled with anxiety about whether or not he was doing enough to succeed and self-criticizing himself to the point of exhaustion, Rohskopf never really enjoyed himself in training or when he competed.
While he is aware that these feelings can easily rise to the surface, Rohskopf made an effort to shift his mindset about fighting and how he prepares in the gym.
“I just try to focus on just being grateful to be able to do it at all,” Rohskopf explained ahead of his return at Bellator 286.. “Regardless of the wins and the losses and stuff like that. In my whole career, I have never done this. It’s always been about I have to win and that mentality sometimes can be really hard. Everybody gets his or hers stomped at least once.
” I think it is being thankful for the opportunity. It’s rare that people get the chance to pursue their dreams. No matter what, I am grateful that I was able to do my best and make the most of it .”
Rohskopf also believed that fighting was something he would do again. His work as a coach helped him relate to children who were dealing with similar problems.
It’s also why he’s so open when speaking about his mental health, because sadly there’s still a stigma that exists whenever a person mentions words like anxiety or depression, and Rohskopf hopes he can help others avoid the same pitfalls that have tormented him.
” At the end of each day, I want an impact on my family, the people closest to me, the people who love me the most and to be able help others along the journey.” Rohskopf stated. Rohskopf said, “I strive to serve others more than myself. Especially now, I believe I have learned this.
“If I can help in any way to a 14, 15, 16 year old kid just listening to me talk, or give any type of guidance to anyone that I can to the best of my ability, I’m going to do that. It’s because I understand what it feels like not to have it and it is sucking