It's not quite a new stance from Joe Rogan. Since the UFC's Reebok uniform deal went into effect, the UFC's most notable voice in the booth has been somewhat firm if understated in his rhetoric about the new fighter sponsorship model. On a recent episode of the Joe Rogan Experience (about 54 minutes in), he once again re-stated his usual "I'm on the fighters' side when it comes to that..." But, this time he went a lot deeper into his criticism and just what being on the "fighter's side" means.
Kennedy blasts Reebok after 100k event payout
Tim Kennedy didn't have nice things to say about the Reebok sponsorship payouts.
Rogan brought up Tim Kennedy's recent comments, where the fighter claimed that he made more in sponsorship for one fight in Strikeforce than the entire UFC Fight Night Teixeira vs. St. Preux card combined. And while he agreed that fighters were getting a raw deal, Rogan didn't just stop there. In his estimation, Reebok isn't coming out much better (transcription via MMAFighting, h/t rMMA):
"I don't think it's a good deal for Reebok because I think it gives them a bad name, in some ways. All of these people are complaining about it, like Tim Kennedy complains, Stitch Duran complains gets fired. Lots of fighters are complaining. Brendan Schaub complained, all these different guys complained. That's all negative press towards their brand.
"They're not a person, right? They're a brand. If you associate that brand, you can't fire the head guy and change the brand. The brand's still the brand. Everybody's going to associate that brand with it."
Rogan even addressed the Stitch Duran firing and how that reflected poorly on both the UFC and Reebok:
"If you bitch about something on Twitter, someone says, 'Holy sh-t! Chris Bell just went off about that!' And then some newspaper gets ahold of it, and then, boom, it goes viral, on Facebook, people re-post it, Tweet it. We live in a different world. So, anytime someone like Stitch gets fired because he said something about, 'Hey, this deal kinda sucks for me because I'm not making as much money,' they fire him. Then all of a sudden, boom, that becomes a way bigger issue than it was just with him saying that. If he just said that and that was it, it would've been a small issue. But him saying that and then getting fired for it, it compounds the issue.
"I'm not a business person. If I was running the UFC, it would've been bankrupt a long f--king time ago, but I think it's real dangerous looking at the bright side of deals like this. I'm like, let's look at the worst-case scenario. What's the worst-case scenario? Everybody's going to hate Reebok. That's the worst-case scenario. People are going to mad at the UFC and mad at Reebok. So, I go, 'Oh, I don't know about that, man.'"
And while Rogan did hedge his rhetoric there a bit in those final statements, making it clear (as he has several times before) that he's not a business man and doesn't feel that he could have done a better job building the UFC brand, he seems to be running far afield from the UFC/Reebok party line.
This certainly feels like a much more sweeping and condemning statement than what got Duran tossed out on his ear just last month. But, given Rogan's much higher profile in the company, it's hard to imagine he'll get the same lack of leeway.