Joe Rogan was paid absolutely nothing for his early UFC shows
It's crazy to think that Joe Rogan, who rose to prominence as a stand-up comedian/TV personality, is one of the greatest martial arts educators ever.
From his first gig with the UFC, right up until present day, Rogan has been the voice of MMA for generations of fight fans. No one since Bruce Lee has taught the masses more about the combative arts than the UFC colour commentator.
Even when he's not working on a card, millions tune into his Fight Companion podcast just to hear his thoughts on the sport, mainly because of his lifetime's worth of knowledge and his passion for MMA.
As Dana White explained on Snoop Dogg's GGN News, Rogan was like that since before they even signed him.
"It's a passion. He's passionate about the sport and you can tell. You can tell he's not just a talking head being paid to talk about MMA. He's into it. He loves it."
"What's funny is when Joe Rogan was on Fear Factor, I saw him do an interview with the Ivory Keenan Wayans show. He was talking about martial arts and he started talking about the UFC. Ivory Keenan Wayans asked him about these different TV stars that do martial arts. He's (Rogan) like, 'the UFC fighters would whoop the shit out of these guys, it's not even close."
Pure passion https://t.co/RsIWxeVo5w
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) March 22, 2017
From watching that short TV interview, the UFC president knew he had found his guy to kick the game into the next level. He ticked every box required to excel at the gig. When White finally made the call, he accepted it with gusto.
"The way that he was talking about it, I was like, at this point I need a guy like that who has some celebrity and who isn't afraid to speak his mind and is very educated about the sport. So I reached out to Rogan and Rogan's like, 'Oh fuck yeah! I'm in.'"
At the time, Rogan had a cushy gig presenting the massively popular dare show Fear Factor. So it's doubtful that he needed the extra income. The proof that passion was the main incentive behind taking the role rather than money was the fact that none was being offered.
"You want to hear something crazy? You know how much Rogan loved it? He did the first 12 shows for free. He didn't even get paid. He wanted to do it. And then obviously, once we turned it around, he gets paid now."
For the first dozen shows he was involved in, Rogan did the job pro bono. He wasn't in it for the money, but luckily, that came to him later.