A top podcaster, comedian, actor, and commentator for the UFC, Joe Rogan excelled in nearly every field he broke into. However, among all of Rogan’s spectacular achievements, his fighting expertise is often overlooked.
He fought competitively as a teenager and acquired a black belt in Brazillian Ju-Jitsu, Karate, and Tae Kwon Do. So, why did Joe Rogan ever stop fighting?
Listeners of Joe Rogan know about his immense knowledge of mixed martial arts. Rogan analyzes the fighting techniques of others, and also frequently speaks from his own fighting experience.
By the age of 13, Rogan was practicing MMA and developed a passion for fighting. By 1987, Rogan was a repeating Tae Kwon Do champion in the United States and was known for his vicious striking ability.
Competitive fighting is known for brutal injuries and tough training that results in life-long physical damage. Rogan mentioned in a podcast episode with Joey Valtellini the injuries he sustained while training. Rogan said,
I was getting headaches just from sparring, and I did not spar smart, I sparred meathead style.
Besides his own injuries, Rogan expressed his distaste for fighters taking constant blows to the head which can lead to slurred speech. Preventing long term injury was a concern Rogan had, which led him to commentate for the UFC, rather than fight. It was his way to stay close to the sport without fighting.
During a podcast episode with Mike Tyson, Rogan shed light on his early day obsession with Tae Kwon Do and kickboxing. He acknowledged himself as a talented fighter but didn’t like worrying about his fighting schedule. Rogan stated, “Once I stopped fighting, it was a huge relief”.
A driven fighter but often conflicted, Rogan took his own mental health as a priority over his fighting talent. Eventually, Rogan’s peers encouraged him to pursue a career in standup comedy which he enjoyed doing for fun.
While Rogan was passionate about fighting, he just never saw a real chance to make money competing. In addition to the conversation with Valtellini, Rogan said, “There’s no money in it” referring to his attitude when he quit competitive fighting. He is also vocal about UFC fighters making much less than they actually deserve to this day.
In June 2020, Andrew Schulz had a conversation with Rogan about UFC fighter pay. Rogan told Schulz,
I think they should get paid more, it’s a crazy way to make a living
With such a decorated, well-rounded background, Joe Rogan’s sensational fighting ability is something that shouldn’t be forgotten. As a Tae Kwon Doe champion and active kickboxer, Rogan left the world of competitive fighting behind to pursue other opportunities.
Rogan had concerns of injury, prioritized his mental health, and saw other lucrative options to make a living during the peak of his fighting days.