These days in MMA, everyone has an opinion. The trick is, to find the opinions that not only carry the most weight, but the ones that consistently make sense. Joe Rogan is one of the most intelligent people I have the good fortune to know. Every time I speak with him, I'm blown away by the knowledge he routinely drops. I recently interviewed Joe, to get his take on everything from judging issues to TRT. This is the first in a three part special.
Stephie Daniels: Judging seems to be a mess across combat sports in general, with the latest travesty being the Pacquiao vs. Bradley decision. What was your take on that?
Joe Rogan: I don't know if that was corruption. I know I said it was it was corruption, but if it was, that's really blatant. I have a hard time believing that those competent judges saw that fight different than every single person I've talked to. That's not a fight like Shogun vs. Machida I. There was a lot of Machida fans that really felt like he deserved the nod in that fight. There were some that thought it was divided 60/40. There's been some fights where there's been some disagreement. I have yet to talk to a person that thought Bradley won.
I still love boxing, and I enjoy watching a good fight, but the reality is, boxing is a boring sport compared to MMA. I really enjoy watching fights where I don't have to work. I'm not saying that I don't enjoy working, because I really enjoy working, but I like watching a fight where I can just shut the f**k up, so I've been watching a lot of kickboxing lately, a lot of K-1.
I talked to Dana at one point in time, when K-1 was in trouble, and they were getting bought out. I was like, 'Man, you guys should seriously think about buying K-1.' When you look at guys like Badr Hari and Daniel Ghita and Tyrone Spong, I mean, you're dealing with unbelievably exciting fights. Almost every fight is exciting, and they're fighting three rounds, so they're going for it. It's not like a boxing match where they're pacing themselves. These guys are going after it. There's a lot of talent, especially European guys. I really enjoy It's Showtime and K-1 Max.
It makes boxing seem dumb. It's dumb that you can't kick someone's legs. Why are we just boxing? What the f**k is that? It's silly. It's not the best way to fight. It's not even close to the best way of fighting. If Floyd Mayweather had to fight Michael McDonald, he'd probably beat him in a boxing match. For sure he'd beat him, even if they fought with little gloves on, but in an MMA match, I'm betting on McDonald. I'm betting McDonald hits him with a leg kick, takes his back and chokes the sh*t out of him. You know why? Because it's a better style. The fighting style of MMA is a better style. The best style is when you can use anything.
When you talk about stand-up, the best style is not just straight boxing. There's too many holes in it. Boxing, as a straight style, is actually better with MMA gloves than it is with boxing gloves. Boxing as a straight style with MMA gloves becomes several degrees more dangerous, because the small size of the gloves can sneak through small openings, because your hands move faster, and there's more impact because there's less padding. I think boxing as a style with boxing gloves is not nearly as effective as it is with MMA gloves.
Stephie Daniels: What do you think of the problems with judging in MMA and boxing?
Joe Rogan: I think they should fire judges that suck. I don't understand how someone can keep their job over and over again while screwing up over and over. What do you call that exactly? Extreme incompetence. How does someone judge any sort of combat sport without at least a passing interest in the sport? If you pulled aside, and I don't want to name any names, but if you pulled aside some of those judges from the Nevada State Athletic Commission, that has notoriously had horrific scoring, and started asking them about fighters that aren't fighting in the UFC, would they know anything about them? Would they know anything about who the top judo guy is? Would they even know anything about Gilbert Melendez and how good he is?
Do these guys know how you set up an armbar? If I sat them down and said, 'Do an armbar on this guy', would they be able to do that? I think you've got to know when a guy's in trouble and when a guy's not in trouble, and the only way to know that, is to have actually trained. I don't think you can be a person who judges martial arts without being an expert in martial arts.
I have never had a mixed martial arts fight, but I'm a martial arts expert. I've been a martial arts expert since I was a little boy. I know what I'm really good at, and I know what I don't understand as well, but I have dedicated my entire life to martial arts. It's been a focus of mine since I was a growing boy, so when I commentate on MMA, I do it with the passion of someone who is 100% a fan. If I had to choose between my job with the UFC and not being a fan anymore, I would for sure just quit working.
Stephie Daniels: When you talk about the judges needing some form of MMA training or experience, would you say that also translates to the referees?
Joe Rogan: Absolutely. No doubt about it.
Stephie Daniels: What do you think of Kim Winslow, and who do you feel the best referees are?
Joe Rogan: Yeah, she should have some martial arts training. She has stood out as someone who has made a lot of mistakes, in my mind. I know that in this last event, there were several people that were upset with her.
Here's the thing about referees. They never get praised, and they always get sh*t on. There's a few guys like Josh Rosenthal and Herb Dean that have really avoided almost all criticism because they're so damned good. You never realize how good they are because they just get the job done. I've always said that Herb Dean is the best, but recently, Josh Rosenthal's reffing has been so rock solid, that he has to be considered as the best, right up there with Herb.
Of course Big John is the gold standard. He was the original great referee. John's made some mistakes, but you know what? John has been around forever. The Matt Lindland vs. Murilo Bustamante fight was a slight mistake John made. Well, I shouldn't say slight, because it could have changed the entire course of the fight. Matt Lindland tapped, and they said he didn't tap. John stopped the fight, then he restarted it, and then Lindland got him. That's gonna happen. John was setting the standards. It wasn't like he had someone to imitate. It was a completely new sport, and John was there every single step of the way.
Those are the three guys right there. If you ever had a main event, and those three guys were the refs, you could not go wrong. They're the best there is. They're awesome.