The time has come to conclude this year's interview exclusive with Joe Rogan. In this final segment, Joe discusses the need for extra weight classes in the UFC, the women's division, the enhanced athlete and more. If you missed the first two parts of this feature, you can find Part I here and Part II here.
Steph: I want to talk a little bit about your commentary. I notice when you're gone, even when we have guys like Brian Stann in there, who did a really good job, I still notice when you're gone, and I miss you when you're gone. I have noticed that here and there you take a night off, is that something that's sort of helping you along? Do you need those times away?
Joe: Well, sometimes I do. This time I did because of the television show. I love commentary. I love doing it. I love working for the UFC, it's an amazing organization and it's an honor to work for them. I don't plan on quitting. I love watching other people do it too though, I'm a big fan of Jimmy Smith, and I think he does an excellent job. I'm a big fan of Brian Stann, I thought he done a great job. If I was worried about my job I'd be like, ‘Damn, Brian Stann. He done a great job and he's actually a fighter' [laughs]. He's a guy who has legit credentials, but I think there is room for everybody. There is room for a lot of different people; I can't do all of the events. The events are going to be happening more frequently all over the world on a regular basis.
The UFC is going worldwide, and you can't stop it. Well, I shouldn't say you can't stop it, an asteroid could stop everything. If aliens landed there'd be no more UFC. What I'm saying is UFC plans to expand worldwide. When that happens we're going to need guys like Brian Stann, or Kenny Florian or Frank Mir. I think Frank Mir is one of the most underrated guys ever. Frank Mir is outstanding. I guess he doesn't work for Zuffa because he said some crazy shit about Brock Lesnar back in the day, but I think they should forgive him for that, because I think he was one of the best commentators ever. Pat Miletich is one of my personal favorites, I think he's awesome. I love Michael Schiavello. There are a lot of great commentators in combat sports. We're going to have Glory on Spike too, so there's a lot of room for more commentators and more guys in the UFC.
Steph: Is it good for your psyche to get those little mini vacations?
Joe: I don't know, I never get tired of doing the UFC. There's never a time I'm there going, ‘oh shit, I wish I was fishing or something.' It's not like that. I'm such a huge fight fan. I've talked about this before, but I don't even really know the rules to other sports. I don't know the rules to football, I don't know what's a foul in basketball, and I don't give a f**k really. I don't care, but I am obsessed with combat sports, whether it's jiu-jitsu, or kickboxing or MMA, I'm obsessed. It's my number one favourite things to watch. I watch fights constantly, it's what I enjoy, so I don't need time off from the UFC. Sometimes I need to take time off because I'm so busy, but it's never like, ‘Oh, I need a break.' Plus, it's not like the UFC is every day, and even if it was every day, I'd probably still enjoy the shit out of it.
It's just a travel issue. When you fly to Brazil especially; Brazil essentially takes four days. It takes a full day to get there. It's like five hours to Miami, then another 10+ hours to Rio. There's the two days of being there, with the weigh-ins then the fight. Right now I'm just so bogged down with work that it's really hard for me to do four days. It's essentially the majority of a week to get down to Brazil. I really hate missing the Brazil cards too, because there's something magical about watching fights in Brazil. The intensity of the audience is like nothing anywhere else in the world. They are so patriotic. They root their champions on so hard-core, it's really something special to watch.
Steph: You are a big fan of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, but you started out in different forms of martial arts. Are you sort of proud when you see these new fighters using these martial arts like karate or even tae kwon do?
Joe: I love it. I love that we're seeing all these different spinning techniques now in the Octagon. We've had four wheel kick knockouts in the past couple of years, it's been kind of amazing. It started off with Edson Barboza, then of course Vitor Belfort, Uriah Hall and Junior Dos Santos with that crazy wheel kick knockout of Mark Hunt. That was one of my bread and butter techniques, as was the spinning back kick. We've seen Denis Siver have wild success with that, and a lot of other fighters have used it in the Octagon as well.
We're starting to see a wide variety of various traditional martial arts techniques. Rory MacDonald likes to use that fake front kick to round kick, where the kick starts low and then he switches the hip and whips it over the top. That's an old school taekwondo and kyokushin karate technique. Makdessi scored the first spinning backfist knockout. He's a really good example, because of his karate and taekwondo background you see a lot of front leg techniques from him that are really hard to deal with. He stands with that front leg forward, and without any switch throws roundhouse kicks, side-kicks and a lot of other different techniques off of that front leg. We're seeing that there's not just one style of stand-up style that is effective. Of course, Machida is famous for his karate style and is one of the most successful karate guys in the Octagon and we see how difficult that style is to deal with.
Steph: Speaking of Machida, what did you think of the Machida vs. Davis fight?
Joe: Yeah, I saw it. I was surprised by the decision, quite honestly. I thought Machida won, but I thought it was a close fight, and when you're dealing with takedowns... Machida stuffed a lot of takedowns, but he did get taken down a couple of times. Some people score takedowns very highly. People say, ‘Oh it was a robbery.' I think the real issues are we need to define what the parameters are for success in the Octagon. Is it successful when a guy takes you down once, or is it more successful when you stuff ten takedown attempts and punch the guy in the face?
There was a similar situation recently where Danny Castillo took Tim Means down, and a lot of people thought that he didn't do enough damage after the takedown, and that Tim Means done more damage standing up and should have got the decision because of that.
In my opinion, instead of people concentrating on, ‘oh that's a robbery, it's bullshit.' We need to define what success is. What is more important? Is it more important to land a really hard punch, or for a guy to take you down and do nothing? It's a very important question, and I don't think it's one that has been clearly defined to the judges, especially the judges who don't have a background in martial arts. It's a real issue in MMA, and I have been very vocal about my feelings. I think there are a huge amount of fans out there who are massive, massive martial arts fanatics and they would make incredible judges. I think a lot of people feel it would be an honor to have that position, but there are a lot of people who are judges now, and to them it's just a job, it's just a gig.
I can't hate, we've all had jobs, and I don't fault them. I fault whoever gave them that job. I think that in order to be a judge in mixed martial arts at the highest level, I feel like you have to have some deep background in martial arts. You have to have been hit in the face. You have to have been strangled. You have to have been arm barred. You have to know what it feels like. You have to know what is a danger and what's not. There are certain scenarios a person can get put into where they're not in danger, but to a person who is uneducated in martial arts it might look like they are, and that can f**k up scoring.
We have a problem, and that problem is pretty deep. First of all, judging is on a ten point must system, which is completely stolen from boxing. The system that we have in place right now is ridiculous. Doc Hamilton had a really interesting fix to that system, which was a half point system, which I like better. I think Doc is a very wise man, and he's also a long time martial artist. He's been involved in martial arts since I was a baby, probably even before then. I respect guys like that who have been around for a long time. He has an educated take on the current situation that I think should be respected. I think the scoring system needs to be revised, and the way we decide to score things needs to be better defined.
Steph: I think there is too much focus put on the last minute of the round as well
Joe: You're right. There's certainly a psychological aspect to that. In Pride the later rounds were scored more highly, the later half of the fight was more important than the earlier half. I think the logic behind that was, if you are in a street fight, as the fight goes on the guy who is more successful towards the end is the guy who is winning that fight. It's not necessarily true, because a guy could be kicking your ass and you take him down with 15 seconds left, but that doesn't mean you won the fight.
The problem is there's not much being done. That's what really pisses people off. We keep seeing these bad decisions happen over and over again, and the idea is what's being done to fix this? What's being done to encourage good judging? There's a lot to be done.
Steph: What was it like for you to see the women brought in to the UFC and to commentate the first women's fight?
Joe: It's amazing to see the women finally in the UFC. I'm always excited to see the technique that these ladies display in there. I'm really looking forward to seeing more weight classes added, so we get some added variety. Ronda Rousey, to see her get in there and hit that armbar over and over and over, man it's just incredible.
I appreciate women's MMA as long as there is a level playing field. When I say that, I'm talking about a topic that came up a few months back with this Fallon Fox person. Fox was once a man and then had surgical and hormone enhancement to become a woman. I think that's a tricky situation, and you have to wonder how much of an advantage is still there.
You also have issues like Cris Cyborg, who has tested positive for steroid use before. Don't get me wrong, I think she's an amazing athlete. Her striking is on another level and her technique is solid, but she did test positive. When you have women that are chemically enhancing their physique in order to become more masculine for competition, and you have others that are surgically modifying themselves to actually fit into the women's division, there have to be some questions raised about safety.
Steph: What do you think about the men's weight divisions? You've been able to see these smaller weight classes come in. Would you like to see other weight classes brought in, as well? Perhaps a super heavyweight division?
Joe: I love seeing the smaller guys fight. The flyweight division has been fantastic. Guys like Demetrious Johnson and Ian McCall are very exciting to watch. I would like to see a super heavyweight division, but more importantly, I'd like to see some classes in between middleweight and light heavyweight. There's a 20 pound difference there. Imagine stacking up 20 steaks. That's a huge difference. I think boxing got it right with the smaller increments for their weight classes. It's a much safer way to do things.
There are guys out there that could really benefit from a 160 pound division. Diego Sanchez is a prime example of that. BJ Penn wouldn't really need that 5 pound advantage because I think 155 is the division that suits him. He is a product of motivation and BJ is always best at 155 where he is motivated.
Steph: When I spoke to you last year, we talked about genetic and chemical enhancements that will more than likely end up becoming an accepted trend in professional sports. Are you sort of looking forward to the days when we throw a gorilla in the cage with a ‘modified' man?
Joe: [Laughs] Are you serious? Do you really think it will come to man vs. beast?
Steph: You never know...
Joe: [Laughs] I don't think we'll go back to the gladiator days where they toss a man in with a bear or anything, but we're in an era right now, where we're probably seeing the last of the ‘unmodified' athletes. I like to call it the Roaring 20's of the digital age. This will be the last era of non-enhanced humans in sports. They're already talking about modifying red blood cells to hold more oxygen. People will be able to hold their breath under water for hours at a time. What's going to happen when we see that? What's going to happen we see a football player out on the field that can leap over an entire team? That's game changing shit.
Right now, human history is in a beautiful place in sports. It hasn't made that leap yet, so we're seeing true feats in competition.
Steph: Do you still have your Cuda?
Joe: No, I got rid of it a while ago. When you have one of the old muscle cars, especially if they've been lowered or had some customizations done to them, it becomes a weird thing. It's like, ‘What are you doing? Are you driving it real slow because it looks pretty?' In that case, it's perfect, because they look great and they sound great. They're really fun to just cruise around in. But, if you actually take it on the highway, those f***ing things are dangerous.
They're tricky, especially when they haven't been through what they call the shake down time. The shake down time is the first ‘X' amount of miles where you work out all the kinks in them. When you have a heavily modified car like that, you find things wrong with it. That's what I found. It also broke down on me a bunch of times and left me stranded. It was such a pain in the ass. It stunk like gasoline all the time, too. On one hand, it was absolutely glorious, but on the other hand, it was a pain in the ass.
And there you have it, folks. The 2013 Joe Rogan interview exclusive. Thanks to Joe Rogan for allowing me to pick his brain every year in what has become a tradition for me. Again, if you missed the first two segments of this feature, please check out Part I here and Part II here.
You can follow Joe via his Twitter account, @JoeRogan