Prior to UFC 266, there was a minor uproar. It seemed as if some fans thought the event wouldn’t have a big pay-per-view feel or that it would be missing something. When the event came to a close, that talk had been whisked away to wherever hysterical histrionics go to die.
The big deal that was going to ruin the fight card — which featured two title fights and a rematch between Nick Diaz and Robbie Lawler — was the absence of Joe Rogan. Yes, that’s right, the nonattendance of a man who is often mocked for his overly theatric screams and inability to call when a fight might be over, was going to ruin the UFC 266 pay-per-view.
Shockingly, that did not happen. I saw no post-fight longings for Rogan’s presence. If anyone ripped their garments apart and ranted to the heavens, “If only Joe Rogan had been on the call,” I missed it. Rogan’s absence was a non-factor. Had the news not been announced beforehand, perhaps some eyebrows would have risen at the start of the broadcast, but that’s probably the most that would have happened.
All this is to say that Rogan, who has missed two UFC PPV dates in a row — one for his comedy tour and the most recent for a hunting trip — is replaceable. I would go as far to say that Rogan ought to be replaced.
Rogan might have just become the longtime employee the boss loves, but who other workers side-eye with resentment. He’s the guy who shows up late, leaves early, does the least amount of work possible, gets the highest amount of pay and reaps the big rewards.
While the other members of the UFC commentary team put in work all week to prepare for a big event, not to mention also covering Tuesday events at the UFC Apex, Rogan’s doing, well, something else.
While Jon Anik is nailing down the proper pronunciations of the fighter names and helping the other members of the commentary team get background information on the fighters, their families and their camps, Rogan is elsewhere.
Another thing to consider is the one-sided commitment between the UFC and Joe Rogan. The promotion wants Rogan to show up maybe 12 weekends a year to do his job. Rogan can’t even commit to that light workload as we found out, with him skipping the past two PPV cards. It seems to me as if the UFC isn’t a priority in Rogan’s life any longer.
And hey, that’s fine. Priorities change. I’m sure doing the same thing over a number of years can get boring for someone who has the means to do whatever they want any day of the year. But if most of us told our bosses the days we were going to work and then decided, you know what, on second thought, I’m going to skip today, odds are good they would replace us. And we would deserve it.
Rogan offers nothing that Paul Felder and Michael Bisping can’t do and don’t already do. In fact, these two who work a lot more than Rogan on UFC broadcasts, might be better suited to the job of color commentary because they are former UFC fighters and they can speak to what the fighters are going through in all facets of the fight game.
No one is going to not buy a UFC pay-per-view because Joe Rogan is absent. And if Rogan can’t give the UFC a handful of weekends a year, it’s time to reward the hard work folks like Bisping and Felder are doing and let them have Rogan’s job. That’s how it would work in the real world, so why not in the UFC?