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Joe Rogan: It bothers me how UFC’s control ‘ruined’ prospects, can’t build up fighters like in boxing

Joe Rogan says that with UFC not giving fighters much of a choice in matchmaking, a lot of prospects’ careers have been ruined.

Performances At The Ice House Comedy Club Photo by Michael S. Schwartz/Getty Images

Joe Rogan recently had former boxing champion Andre Ward as a guest in his podcast, and it’s where the two discussed the difference between the sweet science and mixed martial arts. According to Rogan, one of the things that boxing does well and MMA doesn’t, is with properly handling prospects and building up big fights.

He says that with UFC fighters not getting much of a choice in matchmaking and their career paths, a lot of promising prospects aren’t properly handled.

“(In boxing) managers dictate who the fighters fight, and they do build their fighters up correctly. One of the things that bother me about MMA, is I think there’s some really good young fighters that get ruined,” Rogan said. (HT: LazyLefty) They get thrown to the wolves too quickly, they wind up getting their confidence shattered, they get knocked out when they shouldn’t be, they’re fighting a caliber of fighter they’re not prepared for.

“There’s always the argument for a guy like Jon Jones, youngest ever UFC champion,” Rogan said. “For every Jon Jones, there’s a guy who is coming up that maybe could have been a world champion, but didn’t get managed correctly. The UFC doesn’t give you options. They say ‘hey, you want to fight Kamaru Usman? Okay, here’s your fight. This is it.’

Ward responded to discuss the difference in business models for the two combat sports.

“It’s a trade off right?” Ward asks. “Fans get the big fights, but in the wake of how many careers?”

Is that still even the case in MMA now? Rogan then went on to say that while UFC fans get a lot of big fights, they’re usually not at an optimal time in their careers.

“The fans get the big fights, but I don’t think we necessarily see the highest caliber of fighter fight the highest caliber of fighter, with the best case scenario at all times. Do you know what I’m saying? I don’t think we get to see the most out of some of these guys.

“If there was a ton of different promoters around, and you weren’t locked into any specific organization like the UFC has, I think you can see more managers saying ‘Hey man you’re not ready for Robbie Lawler, you’re not ready for this guy. We’re going to take this fight on a regional level. We’re going to build you up and get you to 15, 16-0, then we’re going to start to challenge some top 10 contenders.’

“This way, you will have seen all the looks. You’ll have seen a great wrestler, a great striker. You’ve fought a Muay Thai champion, you’ve fought a jiujitsu guy, you know how to handle all these different scenarios.”

The UFC certainly has a lot of power and control over the sport, and a lot of what Rogan discussed have been those issues either brought up by those pushing the Ali Act into MMA or the on going antitrust lawsuit against the promotion.

As for all the talk the UFC supposedly besting boxing at booking fights that fans want, it’s the sweet science which has had a lot of legitimate super fights between the best of the best as of late, while there has been numerous disgruntled MMA stars sidelined and match ups that have failed to materialize. Anecdotally, if you look at today’s front page, there’s multiple articles relating to failing (or failed) UFC negotiations involving fighters such as Georges St-Pierre, Cris Cyborg, Tony Ferguson, Jorge Masvidal, Nate Diaz, Colby Covington, and Kamaru Usman.

I understand the history and where this idea came from, but with recent events, it’s actually a narrative that could be worth revisiting.

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