UFC color commentator Joe Rogan has come out in defense of his main event commentary at UFC 223.
UFC 223 is in the books, and it was an interesting night to say the least. Rose Namajunas defended her strawweight title in a hotly contested match against Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Zabit Magomedsharipov continued his march to stardom. Karolina Kowalkiewicz fended off a game Felice Herrig. Olivier Aubin-Mercier arrived as the ‘Canadian Gangster.’ Yet outside the cage, one particularly notable occurrence was the performance of UFC color commentator Joe Rogan.
Rogan’s commentary during the main event between Khabib Nurmagomedov and massive underdog/short notice opponent Al Iaquinta has become a focal point for fans. Many have perceived it as inaccurate or even biased against the Russian star. Rogan spent much of the later rounds of the fight questioning Khabib’s stand-up game, a rather surprising twist in a fight that he was dominating. And while it is true that Khabib was seemingly unable to control Iaquinta the way many expected in the later rounds, and had noticeably slowed a step, it was still a landslide victory for ‘The Eagle.’
Rogan has now released a statement regarding his performance on the air at UFC 223 in Brooklyn, explaining his reasoning. Saying that it is “insanely rare to have a fighter as dominant as [Khabib Nurmagomedov],” Rogan went on to explain that “when I’m commentating on someone that dominant I am constantly looking for cracks in their armor, and on Saturday night we saw the first of those cracks exposed by an incredibly game Al Iaquinta.”
Iaquinta, mind you, did not win a single round in the bout on the judges scorecards. That said, even making it five rounds with the imposing Nurmagomedov is something of a victory. And while five of the Russian’s previous UFC fights have gone to decision, he had never before been in a five round fight. Many expected that would give him more time to ragdoll Iaquinta and finish him off. Instead, the New Yorker gutted it out to the end.
You can read Rogan’s full statement below.
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It is insanely rare to have a fighter as dominant as @khabib_nurmagomedov. In one of the most talent stacked divisions to go 25 and 0 is incredible, but to do it without even having a rough moment in a fight is completely unheard of. The closest thing to adversity he’s had to face in the Octagon before Saturday was one solid punch that was landed by Michael Johnson in a fight that was otherwise a horrifically one-sided mauling. When I’m commentating on someone that dominant I am constantly looking for cracks in their armor, and on Saturday night we saw the first of those cracks exposed by an incredibly game Al Iaquinta. Most people, myself included, expected the highly favored Khabib to rag doll his last minute opponent the way he’s done to everyone else he faced in the Octagon, and that was the case in the early going, but as the fight got into the later rounds Al was able to keep the fight standing and we saw some possible flaws in Khabib’s defense. Make no mistake about it, Khabib won that fight by a landslide, but it went to a decision, and that in and of itself was an upset. When I’m looking at a fighter as spectacularly talented as Khabib fighting a guy like Al who is an almost impossible underdog I’m not just looking at this fight, but I’m looking at openings that can possibly be exploited by the best fighters in the division. I saw some of those openings Saturday night, and I certainly found them interesting. In no way am I biased against Khabib, in fact I’m a massive fan of his and he’s one of my all time favorite fighters. If any of you were annoyed by my concentrating on that aspect of an incredibly dominant performance by one of the most impressive guys in the history of the division, please accept my sincere apology. When I commentate on fights my goal is to highlight the action and make it more exciting for the fans at home. Obviously all this is done live in real time, and if I had to go back and do it again I would often be able to do a better job. Even after all the years I’ve been commentating I still learn something new about the position with each and every event, and when that stops happening that will most likely be when I quit.