A sports media culture clash simmered over after Joe Rogan and Stephen A. Smith shared the ESPN set in the aftermath of Conor McGregor’s 40-second knockout of Donald Cerrone at UFC 246.
Smith bashed Cerrone for not being prepared. Rogan took exception to the analysis, and drama ensued via podcast and social media rants in the ensuing days.
UFC boss Dana White weighed in on Thursday. He’s on Rogan’s — and Cerrone’s side.
How the Rogan-Smith drama started
Bickering ensued after Smith said in a post-fight analysis segment alongside Rogan that Cerrone didn’t show up for the fight.
“Far be it for me to refute anything that Joe Rogan says,” Smith said on ESPN on Jan. 19. “We haven’t learned a damn thing about Conor McGregor based on this fight. ... Because ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone just didn’t show up. I could have ran for 40 seconds.”
Smith makes a living by starting and escalating arguments on multiple ESPN platforms.
Rogan rips Smith
Rogan, a UFC analyst long before the property teamed up with ESPN, takes pride in more sober, studious analysis of mixed martial arts. He wasn’t having Smith’s bombast, claiming “This guy should not be allowed to talk about fighting,” on his podcast “The Joe Rogan Experience” days after the fight.
“There’s no positive in downplaying the career of Donald Cerrone and what he can do as a fighter,” Rogan said, per an MMA Junkie transcript. “What that showed to me is how phenomenal Conor performed. That’s what it showed to me. If either you or I was talking about cricket, and we were on TV doing commentary on cricket, we would look out of place. It would be f---ed up, and real cricket fans would be upset at us.
“You’ve got to have some respect for that man, and this sport demands a different perspective. It’s not the same thing as a ball going into a hoop.”
Keep in mind. These two worked together during UFC 246 fight coverage and will most assuredly share airspace during future events.
Smith’s response draws rebuke from McGregor
In an interview with MMA Junkie published on Thursday, White chimed in, taking the side of Rogan, his longtime friend and UFC cageside commentator.
Dana White’s take
“I’m not into it,” White said of Smith’s take. “Rogan is not into it. You don’t see that in the UFC. There will be times where I’m pissed off at a guy, and I’ll voice my opinion on what he did or whatever – or if a fight is really bad or somebody did something. What we don’t do is, when a fight is over and a guy loses, we don’t go in and rip them apart. It’s just not our style.”
White then acknowledged the reality that UFC’s in bed with ESPN, and this kind of clash is inevitable.
“For Stephen A. Smith, that’s his thing,” White said. “That’s what he does. It’s going to happen. You’re always going to have people who have difference in opinions, especially when you have two very opinionated guys like Stephen A. Smith and Joe Rogan.”
In the grand scheme, White’s probably just fine with the conflict. While there are some genuine philosophical differences at play here, stories like this continue to generate headlines and hype around UFC.
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