How Joe Rogan went from Fear Factor to one of the most influential men in MMA

Bryce Ros

In the year 2002, while scanning through the channels on the television, a show came on the screen that pitted contestants against each other to win 50 grand by way of eating scorpions or flipping a car. The young full haired host seemed to almost take you by surprise. We all know him today of course as the voice of the UFC Joe Rogan. It has been a great pleasure to watch his career morph into what it has become today. His stand up is one of the funniest acts ever. Seeing him in Atlanta earlier this year was among the most enjoyable nights I have ever spent having a good time in my hometown. The young kid from Newark, New Jersey has lived a life as a regular guy like anyone else. He has driven a taxi and done comedy long before he was ever on Fear Factor.

The thing I find most fascinating is the way he carries himself. He is not an arrogant guy and doesn’t apologize for smoking a joint on The Joe Rogan Experience or opening his mind to different perspectives with DMT, an extremely powerful hallucinogen that has been around for millennia and has been used by Native American Tribes for centuries. He studies and reads philosophy and history, and always peruses knowledge. His most important accomplishment is surely the fact that many consider him to be the greatest and perhaps most influential sports announcer in the world.

While his comedy is something that is a thing of absolute beauty, and I would suggest buying his live ticket to anyone who loves to laugh and have a great time with good people, his contributions to MMA have been transcendent. In 2004 when Frank Mir fought Tim Sylvia in a Heavyweight Bout match up Mir caught Sylvia with his trademark Jiu-Jitsu by way of armbar and broke Sylvia’s forearm. Herb Dean instantly called the fight, having heard the snap of the bone. As the crowd booed and grew to a fever pitch beginning to start throwing objects into the Octagon. At first, it wasn’t evident to everyone what had happened, but after the first replay, it was Rogan who clearly saw the break in the arm. During the post-fight interview, he and Mir watched the replay which clearly saw the break. The crowd can be audibly heard in a collective groan at the precise moment. Although the crowd wasn’t entirely satisfied has there ever been another announcer that so clearly and intelligently defended the correct decision? If there is such a case it’s unknown to me.

All of the moments during huge knockouts or submissions he flows perfectly as if the sublime verbiage and exclamations all come out seamlessly and without effort. This is because of his infinite passion for Mixed Martial Arts. He clearly cares so deeply about the sport and its growth and popularity. There is no doubt that the UFC would not be where they are today if Rogan had not been picked for the job. He has those amazing catchphrases. My personal favorite has always been, “and the lights go out in Georgia,” after a big knockout. His passion and knowledge for the sport are how he makes it looks so effortless, but don’t be fooled Rogan is a fierce learner. He reads about all different idealisms, beliefs, and always looks towards not only self-improvement but the improvement of others.

Anyone who watches the Joe Rogan Experience knows this because of the myriad of guests he has on the show. He has hosted anywhere from the brilliant physicist Neil-DeGrasse Tyson, to Macaulay Culkin, as well as paleontologists and Navy Seals. Unlike most hosts of radio shows or podcasts, Joe Rogan doesn’t spend the time talking himself; rather he asks questions and listens intently on the response. The man certainly does not varnish his opinion, and calls out those who he thinks are absurd, like idiots who still believe the world is flat, or that dinosaurs never existed. Instead of allowing that lunacy to spread he highlights the absurdity of it all.

Having the opportunity to listen to his commentary throughout his career has made the UFC and MMA become something that I started to love. Even UFC President Dana White has commented on Rogan being the best ever, and he truly is. The evolution of his career has been extremely well deserved. As much as I love UFC Fight Night and listening to DC and the now much more coherent Englishmen Michael Bisping, the fights are just not the same without Rogan’s loud exclamatory voice drenched in his passion for MMA. He unquestionably was one of the largest, if not the largest contributing factor in bringing MMA fans into the mainstream.

He has in some ways transcended the UFC. Although that will always be what he is known for by most, I prefer to look at the man as a whole and certainly an inspiration. Perhaps some will think the word inspiration is too much, but I couldn’t disagree with those people more. Joe Rogan represents the ability to rise to prominence with a tireless work ethic, passion, and the willingness to learn beyond what the average person would consider sufficient. Nothing was given to him. He was not born into a famous family in LA, nor was he extremely well connected. He is a self-made man who has also struck me as the kind who is not fearful of asking for help.

Joe Rogan has become the archetype of an American who drove towards his passions at full tilt. He worked to where he has gotten in both comedy and MMA commentary. He has come a long way since Fear Factor and in one way or another has made an impression on every person who has ever heard him either on a UFC Pay-Per-View, or his podcast. He also protects the fighters when a ref has taken too long after a fighter is clearly out you can always hear Rogan, “He’s out, he’s out. Stop the fight!” Since all the talk has been around the controversial title fight between Bones Jones and Reyes it seemed only proper to give respect to one of the men without whom we might very well not even be watching the UFC. Although Rogan put his stamp even on that fight as he never betrays what he thinks to be the outcome. Joe Rogan is many things: a comedian, influencer, success story, brilliant mind, tenacious worker, truth seeker, announcer, and a rare breed of person that stamps their legacy in history by being himself.

Thanks, Joe.

By the way, Reyes won 1-3. Jones won 4-5, and a ref gave him 27-30 meaning he completely dominated the fight. The problem is with the commissions and they say never leave it to the judges. Well, if you simply forced to put it, proper judges, we would rarely have an incorrect decision in the UFC. That’s my 10 cents.