ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith has come under heavy criticism from MMA fans in the past week for being heavily critical of Donald Cerrone on-air following his 40 second TKO loss to Conor McGregor at UFC 246, and now one of his broadcast partners, Joe Rogan has also put him on blast.
Rogan was visibly uncomfortable as he stood next to Smith during the post-fight wrap-up on pay-per-view as Smith claimed to be “disgusted” by Cerrone’s performance and suggested that, “he looked like he gave up,” and now he’s given his take on the situation.
“(Daniel Cormier) and I would’ve had a completely different conversation and it would’ve been better for the sport,” Rogan told Josh Thomson on his podcast. “There’s no positive in downplaying the career of Donald Cerrone and what he can do as a fighter. 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 (expletive) up and real cricket fans would be upset at us. That’s nothing. You are naked in the most literal sense of the word (in MMA). Physically, you are naked. Emotionally, when fighters lose, it’s (expletive) devastating.
“For Conor to smash ‘Cowboy’ like that in front of his wife, his kid, his grandma and the whole world. 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. It’s not the same thing as crossing a line with a football. It’s different. It’s very intense and very personal, and it’s also very (expletive) dangerous and to play it off like it’s just a game, I don’t agree with it.”
“That’s a bad look for everybody,” Rogan continued. “It’s a bad look for ESPN, it’s a bad look for him, it’s a bad look for the sport. There’s other people that can do this. … We have plenty of people out there who understand the sport. There’s plenty of them. But the thing about him is he’s really popular. (He just got a contract extension) because his personality is so fun. He’s a fun guy to watch and people love (expletive)-talking and they love people arguing about (expletive) and one person is better at arguing. Stephen A. Smith is really good at that stuff. But it’s not the place for MMA. It’s just not the place. It’s not the same thing.”
Rogan went on to underline the fact that he doesn’t want to have to talk MMA again with Smith.
“I would’ve preferred to talk to ‘DC’ or Felder or you (Josh Thomson) or anybody who understands the sport,” Rogan said. “I don’t think it’s the right way to do it. … I have no problem with (Smith) as a human being. Look, I don’t know jack (expletive) about baseball, I don’t know jack (expletive) about basketball. I literally don’t even know the rules. When people foul people, I’m not sure why. I’m not sure what’s happening. I know MMA. I understand. So, if you want to talk about MMA, I’d like to talk about it with someone else who knows about MMA.”