Joe Rogan may draw his paychecks from the Ultimate Fighting Championship, but he believes it’s best for the sport when there is a legitimate competitor out there for his employer.
Rogan has been with the UFC since 1997, working initially as a post-fight interviewer, then moving into the color commentary role for which he is best known. The 51-year-old spoke about both promotions on a recent edition of his Joe Rogan Experience podcast and said it would be good for the sport if Bellator MMA can close the gap and become a rival like Pride Fighting Championships was back in its heyday.
“I like [the resurgence of Bellator]. I like that the fighters are having a good time over there. They get paid well. I want it to grow. I want it to be right up there with the UFC. I would love it if it was a full rival like PRIDE was.”
Bellator has a number of former UFC stars on its roster. While some were released or allowed to leave by the UFC because of declining performances, others such as Ryan Bader and Rory MacDonald left in their competitive prime and have flourished under their new banner. Rogan said he was impressed with some of their fighters particularly a few of their recent acquisitions from the UFC including MacDonald and Gegard Mousasi and believes Bellator MMA President Scott Coker is doing a great job of building the brand.
“I love Coker,” Rogan said. “I like what he’s doing. I’m somehow or another supposed to be in competition with Bellator. I say that’s horse(expletive). I’m the one who got Jimmy Smith hired (by the UFC). I tried to get him hired years ago. I love the fact that ‘Big’ John (McCarthy) is over there now, and (Mike) ‘Goldie’ (Goldberg) is too. And Mauro (Ranallo), I love Mauro. They’ve got great fighters over there.
“I love that Rory MacDonald’s over there. He’s the champ. If he’s not the best welterweight in the world, it’s him and Tyron (Woodley). He’s most certainly one of the best. (Gegard) Mousasi is one go the best 185ers in the world, if not the best. They have legit claim to world-class fighters now in at least two weight classes.”