Wednesday, June 07, 2023

“I did the first 15 shows for free” – Joe Rogan details his beginnings as a UFC commentator

Joe Rogan has often been identified as the voice of the UFC, even after limiting his appearances to US-based pay-per-views. However, Rogan’s early days as a UFC color commentator were not as financially rewarding as they might be now.

According to Joe Rogan, he did his first 15 UFC gigs for free when the company was still in its early days. Rogan also revealed that he became friends with UFC president Dana White as he was offered free tickets to fights. Speaking of the pre-2005 era, Joe Rogan recently said during an episode of the Joe Rogan Experience:

“I did that gig 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.”

Catch Rogan discussing his opinion of Dana White below:

How Dana White persuaded Joe Rogan to start commentating

Joe Rogan was still hosting Fear Factor when he started attending UFC events.

Being a lifelong fight fan, Rogan would discuss worldwide fight scenes with Dana White. This led to the UFC president urging Rogan to try out commentary for UFC events.

Despite being reluctant at first, Joe Rogan gave in for the first time at UFC 37 and the rest is history. Regarding the start of his journey, Joe Rogan said:

“So I would go to these UFC events and I was a giant fan. So 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 like 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.”

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