David Kehrli, Correspondent
For up and coming MMA fighters, finding a permanent home is a crucial initial step toward a successful career.
As one of the newest members of the amateur MMA team at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas, Max Rohskopf has surrounded himself with some of the best in the sport.
With the help of his mentor Sean Spangler, who made a few phone calls, including one to Xtreme Couture coach Robert Follis, Rohskopf was invited to train at the gym while in visiting Vegas for the IBJJF American Nationals in July.
“When he came to pro practice, they were very impressed with what they saw,” Spangler, who is currently the head instructor at Spangler Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy in Apex, N.C, said.
“Robert even sent me a text, saying ‘lots of potential’.”
Getting the invitation to permanently join a team founded by six-time UFC Champion and UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture is a testament to what coaches saw from Rohskopf during that visit.
“It gave me a lot of confidence going out there and training with them,” Rohskopf said.
“After training with their guys and them seeing what I can do, they’re excited and I can tell they’re confident in my abilities.”
Rohskopf received interest from other gyms, including American Kickboxing Academy, home of former UFC champions Daniel Cormier, Cain Velasquez and Luke Rockhold.
Ultimately, he decided on joining Xtreme Couture full time because of its proven track record of success with college wrestlers.
“It’s a gym for wrestlers and for submission grappling guys,” Rohskopf said.
“They have a good system where you can take someone with a college wrestling background and make them really good. I think that gym is going to fit me very well.”
Now that he has settled in with the team at Xtreme Couture, Rohskopf has booked his first amateur fight, an Oct. 7 bout in Las Vegas for King of the Cage, a MMA promotion based in Southern California.
His plan is to take one or two amateur fights and immediately turn pro, believing he can get professional fights, as some of the top professional promoterss are aware of who he is.
“I think people know me well enough now (from college wrestling),” Rohskopf said.
“I know for a fact (Bellator MMA President) Scott Coker knows who I am. Between him and Sean Spangler, I know that a lot of people who work for the UFC know who I am already. With the connections I have, it’s just a matter of getting that first amateur fight in and going from there.”
Now as Rohskopf’s MMA career is about to begin, he has his sights set on working his way to achieving his goals.
“The number one thing is I want to be a world champion,” Rohskopf said.
“In the two sports I’ve taken most serious, I wasn’t able to be the best in the world. I want to headline a big card. I want to have a huge fight in a venue like Madison Square Garden or T-Mobile Arena, because I love the spotlight.”
Just as important to Rohskopf as athletic success is his ability to support his family, which has always supported him in his career and dreams.
“A short-term goal of mine is to be able to make enough money within the next year-and-a-half, two years to where if my little brother doesn’t want to wrestle in college, and if he just wants to start working or training MMA full-time like I am, he can do that,” Rohskopf said.
“My mom gave everything she had to make sure I had everything that she could provide, to give me all the resources I needed to be successful at wrestling and now MMA. I want her to be able to retire; I don’t want her work anymore. I want her to be able to travel and do everything that she’s wanted to do.”
Now a part of a team with great coaches and training partners, Rohskopf has put himself in a situation where he has the chance to achieve those goals one day.
Ultimately, fighting comes down to the mental aspect, and that will play a large role into whether he achieves his dreams in MMA.
“He has the right people in his corner. He has the right training partners. He’s in the right part of the country. He’s not the type of guy to get into drugs or get into gambling — I know that from spending time with him,” Spangler said.
“I think he’s going to do great things. He’s got everything at his disposal. I think ultimately it’s going to come back to his head. How is he going to mentally get through this whole thing? Because it is a mental game.”
Editor’s Note: This is the third of a three-part series from David Kehrli chronicling Max Rohskopf’s initial steps in forging a career in MMA competition.