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22nd Mar 2017

Joe Rogan describing the last time he nearly cried inside the Octagon is simply beautiful

Pure passion

Ben Kiely

If you’re unsure how a sport that was infamously labelled ‘human cock-fighting’ could possibly be considered in anyway beautiful, let Joe Rogan fill you in.

While the brutal violence is undoubtedly a factor in the explosion of popularity MMA is experiencing, there are a lot more layers to the art-form that fight fans connect with.

Some enjoy the storylines, the trash-talk and all that pre-fight hype where the characters and personas shine. Others enjoy the spectacle of seeing combative arts that have been developed over centuries, sometimes even millennia, being performed by elite athletes who have dedicated their lives to the Sisyphean pursuit of perfection.

For a lot of people though, it’s the visceral nature of the sport. At times it can pack an emotional punch that can shake fans to their very core. Fighters are stripped bare once they enter that Octagon. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, the moment of truth will inevitably arrive once that cage door closes.

For Joe Rogan, it’s not just one aspect of the sport that keeps his interest piqued – it’s pretty much everything. As a UFC commentator, he often finds it difficult striking the right balance between passion and professionalism while covering the sport, as he explained on a recent episode of the Joe Rogan Podcast Experience.

“With MMA, when I’m watching it and I’m there live, I’m cageside and I’m watching all this stuff go down… I’m not just watching it, but I’m also analysing it. So I’m trying to decipher patterns and I’m data-chunking and I’m trying to figure out what could possibly happen. What am I seeing? Am I projecting this or am I actually seeing this, and just trying to be as empty about it as I can and also be so enthusiastic about it.”

However, it’s the human moments that often catch him off guard. Such as Darren Elkins’ sensational comeback win over Mirsad Bektic at UFC 209. After being beaten to a bloody pulp for the guts of 15 minutes, the underdog dug deep and got the finish. Rogan admitted that he teared up before interviewing the victor after the fight.

“There are moments like when Darren Elkins beat Mirsad Bektic… (exhales loudly) it’s so hard for me not to cry inside the Octagon. It was so hard! When I was interviewing that dude – I’ll start welling up right now – when I was interviewing him after that fight, I was like, ‘that guy just emptied out… I mean emptied out his whole soul!'”

“He took a fucking beating for two-and-a-half rounds and didn’t give up an inch. There was no quit in him. None. Zero. And then finally in the third round he catches that guy. And there’s this roar that he did after that fight was stopped, where he throws his arm back and he was moving around the cage and screaming – he’s covered in blood… Gawd! I have to wipe tears off my eyes, it’s hard!”

Beauty takes many forms.