Joe Rogan has been staple of UFC pay-per-views for decades. At this point, he’s as much a part of every big UFC card as the Octagon itself.
Speaking on the latest episode of The Joe Rogan Experience podcast, Rogan explained how he got his gig with the massively successful MMA promotion.
“Well, I started in 1997,” Joe Rogan told his guest Sebastian Maniscalco (transcript via MMA News). “I was the post-fight interviewer. It just was a position that was available. The UFC was very small back then, very few people knew what it was. It was off of cable. You couldn’t get it on cable, you could only get it on satellite. And, they needed someone to do post-fight interviews.
“I was in the martial arts world, I used to teach martial arts for a living. Before I became a comedian I used to fight. I fought in a lot of Tae Kwan Doe tournaments, had some kickboxing fights, I’d always been a martial artist. Since I was a kid. I was just interested in watching the UFC. And then I started training jiu-jitsu, and when I was training in jiu-jitsu, I was just a white belt, I was just starting out, that’s when I got hired by the UFC to be a post-fight interviewer. But I only did that for two years.
Joe Rogan then explained that, for a time, he actually walked away from the UFC — though he was eventually coaxed back to the commentary booth.
“I quit, it was just too much,” he said. “It was actually, just – I was actually losing money. I would make more money doing a weekend at a comedy club than I would doing the UFC. And it just got to a point where it was just too much of a pain in the ass. So I still remained a fan, but I backed away. And then the UFC was purchased by this company named Zuffa in 2001.
“When that happened, they started putting on shows in Vegas, and I would go there with my friends. They got me free tickets, they reached out. They would try and get celebrities to go sit there so that – cause they were very small at the time, they were hemorrhaging money, they were trying to build it up.
“And in talking to Dana White, one day I was talking to him about fights going on in Japan. ‘Do you know this guy?’ – and I was bringing up all these names – [He said] ‘Do you want to do commentary?’ [I said] I don’t want to do commentary, man. I’m here to get drunk and watch people kick the shit out of each other. I’m not here to work.’ And he talked me into it for one show. UFC 37.5.
“It was a show that was on one of those FOX Sports networks (The Best Damn Sports Show Period), one of the smaller networks. I did that, and the rest was history. I did like 12 of them for free. The UFC didn’t have any money. They were hemorrhaging money. There were rich people that owned it, but it was not a profitable venture. And I said, ‘Look, just get me there, get me and my friends tickets, and I’ll do it.’ And that’s how I operated for over a year, and then I just became ‘The Commentator.’ It’s just weird.”
How do you think Joe Rogan has done as the UFC’s chief color commentator?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 2/7/2019.