Having recently experienced his own coaching controversy, you can bet Anthony Smith had something to say about this past weekend’s Max Rohskopf drama.
The debuting Rohskopf made headlines on Saturday after his fight against Austin Hubbard at UFC on ESPN 11 was waved off in between the second and third rounds when Rohskopf told his corner he couldn’t continue. The broadcast caught Rohskopf repeatedly telling his coach Robert Drysdale to “call it” and Drysdale insisting that Rohskopf go out for the third round. Referee Mark Smith and the ringside physician at the UFC APEX acknowledged Rohskopf’s plea and ended the bout.
In Smith’s most recent fight on May 13, he was on the receiving end of a one-sided pounding at the hands of Glover Teixeira and his corner was later criticized for not throwing in the towel (Smith would go on to lose by TKO early in the fifth round). UFC President Dana White said he thought Smith’s corner would have called it early, while Smith defended his team first telling critics not to worry about him and then taking full responsibility for how the fight played out.
In Rohskopf’s case though, Smith saw a fighter that needed to be protected, not pushed.
“I’m frustrated, for sure,” Smith told TMZ Sports. “It was frustrating to watch and I think that the reaction from the fans and the other fighters is more frustrating, especially given the situation that I was just in not that long ago. I get it that it’s a kid that’s young, he’s facing some adversity for maybe the first real time in his career. Maybe he thinks he doesn’t have it or maybe he needs some encouragement.”
A veteran of 48 pro bouts, Smith points out that there’s a huge gap in experience between himself and Rohskopf, who entered the octagon with a 5-0 record. Also, Rohskopf’s repeated request to stop the fight and his choice of words made the situation clear as day for Smith.
“I believe he asked out nine times,” Smith said. “This isn’t g*ddamn bloodsport and not all of us think the same. Not everybody’s me. It’s just different. As a young kid and he wanted out, get him the f**k out of there. He wanted to go home and said he didn’t have it, that he didn’t want to do this anymore. That’s what he said, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore.’ That’s different than just being down on yourself and needing a pick-me-up. That’s way deeper than that.
“And then to see the fans and the other fighters stood by Drysdale — listen, I respect Drysdale as much as anybody in the game, that guy’s a pioneer in the jiu-jitsu world, I’m a huge fan of his — but he messed up. He messed up. I think that that needs to be said. This isn’t the same situation as mine. I did everything I could to stay in there and he was doing everything that he possibly could to get out. Get him out.”
Asked if Smith’s coach Marc Montoya would still want him to continue if he expressed a desire to bow out of a fight in the same fashion, “Lionheart” said that Montoya would not. He added that he sees a discrepancy in how Montoya was criticized after the Teixeira fight and the reaction that Smith is seeing to Drysdale’s decision.
“No. If you say, ‘I want out’ and ‘I want to quit,’ that’s your decision, you should be allowed to do that anytime you want,” Smith said. “Whether or not he was afraid that his fighter was going to regret it after that, that’s another deal. That’s kind of on him. If he’s gonna regret it, then that’s his fault. I just don’t think that’s Drysdale’s spot. If [Rohskopf] quits, that’s on him, he’s gotta live with that the rest of his life.
“It’s just odd to me to see these other fighters, ‘Oh no, he made a great decisions. That was exactly what he should’ve done.’ Well, what the f**k were you guys saying a month ago when Marc Montoya was ‘a piece of sh*t’’ because he left me out there like I wanted to be, like I asked to be, like I begged to have the opportunity to be in there? And Marc’s a piece of sh*t for that? But this kid’s begging for a way out and his coach did a great job by not giving it to him? Come on, man. This is a double standard.
“A lot of it is because Drysdale is so respected and nobody wants to say anything sideways about him or to him and I understand that, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t say that Marc Montoya is a bad coach for letting me do what I wanted to do and then say that Robert Drysdale made a great decision by leaving his guy in there or potentially leaving him in there when he’s begging for a way out. This isn’t a guy that said, ‘I’m tired and I just can’t win this time.’ This was a guy who was begging to go home. Let him go home and leave that kid the f**k alone.”