Longtime UFC commentator Joe Rogan has reminisced about how he got his start back in the promotion he’s been a member of for over two decades.
Joe Rogan’s ties to the UFC go back to 1997. Then, he would interview combatants backstage. After the cost of traveling became too much, Rogan would leave the position and move on to host Fear Factor.
When Zuffa and Dana White took control of the organization, they approached Rogan about commentating their events. These were the dark days of MMA in America, and there wasn’t much money going around.
“I did that gig [commentating for the UFC] for free. For the first 15 shows. Yeah, that’s what happened. The UFC was struggling, they just bought the company. It wasn’t financially viable. They weren’t making a lot of money. There was like Tito Ortiz, Chuck Liddell. This was like pre-2005. 2005 is when it really took off because of The Ultimate Fighter. That was season one of The Ultimate Fighter. So I was on fear factor and Dana and I became friends because he offered me tickets to the fights when they had just bought the UFC,” Rogan reminisced on The Joe Rogan Experience.
Now, it’s hard to imagine the mixed martial arts landscape without the controversial podcast host. But according to the longtime UFC commentator, he wasn’t too keen on taking the job. Rogan went to fights to blow off steam and have some drinks, not work.
“So, I would go to these UFC events and I was a giant fan. I talked to Dana about Pride and K1 and like ‘You should try to get Sakurai. Do you know about this guy? Have you ever seen Fedor fight?’ I would talk about all these different fighters and then Dana was like, ‘Why don’t you do commentary?’. I’m like,’ Listen, I come here to get drunk with my friends and have fun. I work all day, I do stand up. I just wanna come whenever you have the fights and sit down and have a good time.’ So he talked me into it once cause they were doing UFC 37 and a half. Now they are at 262.”
Rogan commentates fewer events than he used to these days. He’s still on hand for most of the bigger PPVs, but we often go many events in a row without Rogan’s analysis. His focus seems to be his podcast, which netted him over $100 million last year. So, there may come a day in the near future when Rogan fully steps away from commentating. Should that be the case, for better or worse, he’ll still always be tied to UFC history.