“These Guys Are Hemorrhaging Money” – Joe Rogan Reveals How Despite Dana White’s Mistake UFC Was Able to Save Face With “Insane” Fight

Published 05/09/2023, 8:00 AM EDT

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The UFC has come a long way since its inception in 1993, evolving from a niche sport to one of the biggest sports organizations in the world. Its growing popularity can be attributed to the sheer excitement and drama that comes with the nature of the sport, which keeps fans coming back for more. However, the UFC’s success story wasn’t always so smooth. Like any other business, it had its fair share of struggles, especially in the early days, when the sport was relatively unknown to mainstream audiences. Recently, UFC commentator Joe Rogan reminisced about those struggling early days of Dana White‘s promotion. Even the UFC president has talked about it on various occasions.

Rogan, who has been associated with the MMA giant for over 25 years, recalled how the audience back then couldn’t have been more uninterested. Until there came one fight that changed the perspective upside down for the viewers, making them go berserk.

Joe Rogan recalls when UFC struggled to get televised


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In episode #1982 of the JRE, Joe Rogan sat down with the CEO and founder of Hennessey Special Vehicles, John Hennessey. As the two discussed various topics throughout their conversation, they ended up talking about the UFC and its journey from the initial days.

Rogan spoke about the early days of the UFC, especially when Zuffa acquired it. After which, Dana White was handed over the reins of the company, but he wasn’t able to get it off the desired way back in those days. On the subject, the 55-year-old podcaster highlighted how during those days, the promotion struggled even to get televised.

Rogan stated, “There was no TV to speak of that was showing the UFC. They had to get this deal on Spike TV to put it on television.”

He further added, “This is like 2005, so we are like, 4 years later, these guys are hemorrhaging money trying to make this thing happen… When that was going on, nobody took it seriously.”

Despite the challenges, the UFC managed to stay afloat. Furthermore, Rogan spoke about how the UFC managed to turn things around with a TUF finale fight that changed everything for the promotion.

The fight that got the people talking about the UFC


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In the finale of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ 1 in 2005, Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffin engaged in an insane fight that captivated the audience with its intensity and brutality. The fight was so intense that Joe Rogan stated that it was the fight that put the UFC on the map.

“And Stephan Bonnar, rest in peace he just died, and Forrest Griffin had the most insane fight in the finals of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’. And people were just calling friends up, ‘You gotta watch this. This is insane’… And that fight made the UFC. That fight made the sport. Because then people were like, ‘What is this?‘”, said the UFC commentator.


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In the end, it was Griffin who emerged victorious, but both fighters earned the respect and admiration of the fans. It was a turning point that generated significant interest in the sport, leading to the UFC’s meteoric rise to its current position as one of the most prominent sports organizations in the world.

Watch this story: How Did Joe Rogan Get Famous?


Written by:

Mayur Soni


One take at a time

Mayur Soni is a UFC writer at EssentiallySports. His journey as an MMA fan started with Conor McGregor’s historic 13-second knockout of Jose Aldo in 2015, which sparked his love for the sport. Since then, he has closely followed the sport and gained an in-depth understanding of its nuances, which reflects in his insightful and analytical writing.
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