A lightweight champion will be crowned in the newly founded Anthony Pettis Fighting Championship on April 23rd. Midwest MMA staple Josh Rohler will step into the cage against the highly touted Johnny Hopper for the 155-lb. strap. MMASucka was able to get an inside look into the career, faith, and fight ahead for Ohio’s “Rockin” Rohler.
APFC’s Josh Rohler Talks Title Fight, Career, and Faith
A Hot Prospect Turns Cold
Rohler started fighting early. The 35-year-old Ohioan boxed and wrestled in his early years of childhood. He pieced together an incredible skillset that got him noticed at the collegiate level—a top wrestling college in that of Penn State.
“I wrestled my whole life and boxed for quite a few years as a kid so it’s always been a passion of mine. I’ve pretty much fought my entire life. I took a wrong turn in life at nineteen so I didn’t actually start MMA until I was 26. I got into it because I didn’t want to waste a talent that God gave me. I also didn’t want to be a could of, would of, or should of after I lost my scholarship to Penn State.”
Unfortunately, Rohler’s wrestling stardom was cut short with Rohler falling into a reckless lifestyle.
“After Penn State, I was mad at life. I turned to things of this world and turned my back on God. It took years for me to come back to Him and that’s when I realized I had to use my talents and glorify Him in all I do. I always wanted to fight but [I] chose a wrong lifestyle after Penn State. Cliché but I should be dead or in prison, but by God’s grace he called me back and saved me.”
Rohler, back on track, found his way to a local church and MMA gym. He trained and grew. Rohler jumped into MMA competition in 2014 and went 5-o on the amateur circuit. Debuting as a professional in 2015, Rohler made the sharing of his faith and story of redemption as his goal in combat sports.
“It’s the reason I do [MMA]—to be the light in the darkness, to spread the gospel with the platform I have at this moment in life. It’s my ministry field for now…I don’t want people to see me, I want people to see Christ in me. Glorifying God no matter what and being a light.”
APFC 4 and Lightweight Title Fight
View this post on Instagram
For fighting at the regional level, Josh Rohler has fought the best there is to offer. His last five opponents have made appearances in the UFC, Bellator, LFA, or Dana White’s Contender Series. Rohler last competed in October 2022, losing a majority decision to ex-UFC lightweight Khama Worthy. Rohler said this about the level of competition that he faces,
“In terms of opponents and being the light, that doesn’t matter to me, but selfishly I want to push myself and challenge myself. I want to fight the best people I can to be the best that I can be…I knew I had to finish Khama, fighting him in his hometown and I didn’t, so I wasn’t expecting a decision win. Good, fun fight either way. Just trying to get one percent better every day.”
In one month, Rohler looks to compete in perhaps the biggest spotlight of his career, but the lights and cameras will not phase him on April 23rd.
“—It’s just another fight. I don’t dwell on wins or losses.”
And as for the message he has to share ahead of his lightweight title fight, the Strong Style Fight Team member said,
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'”
Josh Rohler competes for the inaugural APFC lightweight title on April 23rd at the Jean Shepard Center in Hammond, Indiana. APFC 4 will be aired live on UFC Fight Pass.