Rogan: Extreme cutting is cheating
Stephie Daniels recently conducted an interview with Joe Rogan that every hardcore MMA fan will appreciate and enjoy. Casual fans too, although how can you be casually interested in MMA?
Rogan brings his passion, experience, and intelligence to the controversial issue of weight cutting, and argues coherently that it is cheating. The excerpt below by no means does Rogan's argument justice, so do yourself a favor and click the link at bottom to read the entire interview.
Steph Daniels: When we spoke last year, you said something about cutting weight that I felt was very important, about narrowing the gap between the weight classes — especially between 170-185 and 185-205. Is that something you still feel strongly about?
Joe Rogan: I definitely think so. I think there might be some sort of regulations where they weigh fighters during training five or six weeks out, the way they do random drug tests. They should probably do random weigh-ins as well and try to find out what's going on here. When you have certain guys who are cutting an insane amount of weight, maybe something should be done about that, maybe it should be prevented.
I'm a huge proponent of health and safety when it comes to the most dangerous sport in the world, and one of the most dangerous aspects of this dangerous sport is weight cutting. We've had guys die from weight cutting — both in college wrestling and in MMA in Brazil. It happens. Guys can die from weight cutting. I've seen guys that looked like they were going to die. I saw Travis Lutter when he weighed in for Anderson Silva and missed the weight. When he came back … I've never seen a person look worse in my life than Travis Lutter did then. He was shuffling. He couldn't walk so he was sliding his feet across the ground. His lips were chapped, his body was completely dehydrated and his cheeks were sunken into his face, and he was going to fight the baddest motherf—er on earth in less than 24 hours.
That's insane. The guy looks like he's on death's door. What if he got the flu right there and then? What if right then, when he's feeling like s— and his immune system is depleted, somebody coughs on him? He gets some really contagious bug and boom, he dies that night. That's not outside of the realm of possibility. When you're engaging in something that's already dangerous, those other dangers really should be mitigated, and I think that doing that on your own is intelligent. But if fighters don't do it on their own, athletic commissions should monitor it.
Weight cutting is dangerous, there's a reason they weigh in the day before the fight; it gives them a chance to rehydrate. It's crazy. Let's call it what it is. It's kind of cheating, but it's cheating that everybody does. You're allowing someone to pretend they're 155 pounds. Motherf—er, you're not 155 pounds! You look at Gleison Tibau and it's like, ‘Dude, you are not a 155-pound fighter. You're just not. I understand that you can get onto that scale and it can show 155 pounds, but that is for the briefest window possible.' As soon as guys get off the scale, they suck on Pedialyte, they drink coconut water and do whatever they can to get fluids back into their system, and they're f—ing dying.
I just think that bringing your body to a state where it's almost dying just a day before you're going to fight is f—ing crazy. I like it when guys get within 5 pounds or so. I've talked to guys who are really intelligent about their cuts, and they get within 5 pounds. Here's a perfect example: Thiago Alves. All throughout his career he's had problems with weight cuts. He missed the cut for the Matt Hughes fight and came in looking f—ing enormous when he fought Hughes, and a lot of people thought that was a real advantage. I mean, he looked like a goddamn gorilla! Like someone came in and shaved a gorilla. But if you saw him in his last fight, a really entertaining fight against Seth Baczynski, he was on weight the day before the fight. The day before the fight he was 170 pounds and he didn't have to cut any weight. He looked a little smaller as far as his musculature goes, but he looked great. He didn't look weak in any way, shape or form. His technique was fantastic, his gas was great and he came off a two-year layoff and fought a war with a very tough Seth Baczynski. He had a really entertaining fight and he had the endurance. He was healthy coming into that fight because he didn't have to deplete himself and starve himself and all of that s—.
It's one of those situations where everybody has to cheat, because everybody else is cheating.
I just think that approach is a better approach. I really wish there could be some sort of an agreement with fighters where it's just, ‘Goddammit, what the f— do you weigh? You weigh 180 pounds right now? Is that what you weigh when you're fit? Then you should fight at 180 pounds.' This making weight thing drives me crazy. I understand that it's important for championship fights, to define how big the fighters are so we have people competing against people who are the same size, but I think it should stop. I think it's a dishonorable part of the sport, and I know that's a very controversial stance to take, and I know that a lot of people may say that I'm ignorant for saying that. ‘Who are you? You're the commentator. You're the guy who is the supposed expert who is explaining MMA in the No. 1 organization in the world, and you think that weight cutting is cheating?' Yeah, I do. I think it's cheating that everybody does. It's one of those situations where everybody has to cheat, because everybody else is cheating.
I love fighting. I f—ing love it. I watch everything. I watch Bellator, RFA, Glory, Lion Fight, fights on YouTube and every UFC card. I watch the ones I'm commentating and the ones I'm not commentating. We've even recently started doing this thing where Bryan Callen, Brendan Schaub, my friend Aubrey Marcus and I watched the fights and did a simulcast. While we were watching the fights from Cleveland we were broadcasting live on YouTube, watching the fights and having fun doing what we called a fight companion podcast. I'm a huge fight fan. I watched Floyd Mayweather fight Maidana, I just love watching fights. It's one of my passions.
So for a guy like me to say that I think weight cutting is just cheating that everybody agrees to, I understand that it's a very controversial thing for me to say, and I understand that a lot of people are going to get angry at it. But I really think that it's something that we should look at, and we should look at it, and we should look at it from that perspective. I walk around and I weigh about 195 pounds. If I told someone that I really weigh 170 pounds, and they're like, ‘Good, I weigh 170 pounds too, I'll meet you here at this time and let's grapple or fight or whatever.' If I really do weigh 195 pounds, I'm going to have a 25-pound weight advantage over that person. So if I trick them into thinking that I weigh 170, and starve and dehydrate myself to prove it, and then when we actually meet I'm healthy and back up to 195 pounds, isn't that cheating? Isn't that lying? That's what people are doing.
When people weigh in at 155 pounds and then balloon up to 175 pounds totally shredded and ripped with giant, full muscles … It's crazy! What kind of game are we playing? Why are we playing that game? Well we're playing that game because everybody is playing it. The weight cutting game is part of the whole MMA game now. It's deeply entwined and integrated into the sport that you cannot compete against the best in the world unless you're willing to starve yourself and deplete yourself, and I think it's f—ed.
I think it's contrary to the very spirit of martial arts. The very spirit of elite level martial arts should be that you train as hard as you can, you watch your nutrition, you do not take performance-enhancing drugs that give you any sort of unfair advantage and you want to compete against someone who is your size. That's what it should be all about. You don't want to go in there and bully someone who is littler than you. You don't want to go in there and hit someone who is 30 pounds lighter than you that you have some sort of ridiculous advantage over. That's not in the spirit of elite-level martial arts. Elite martial arts should be people competing against people who are the same size as them. Sure there will be some variations. There will be a guy who is 170 pounds and is built like Hector Lombard, and another guy who is 170 pounds and is kind of doughy and soft and has a lot of body fat. Well, the Hector Lombard guy is always going to be stronger and faster. There are going to be variables, but at least we can minimize those variables if people agree to fight at whatever weight they actually are at.
If you want to fight at 170 pounds, figure out a way to get your body healthily down to 170 pounds. There are optimum weight classes for people. There are people who are carrying around too much body fat, and they would perform at a higher level if they could drop that body fat and get more fit. There are a lot of people who carry unnecessary muscle mass, which looks good if you're powerlifting or bodybuilding, but the reality of MMA is a lot of that stuff just sort of gets in the way. There's a point of diminishing returns, where too much musculature is just going to rob you of your performance, especially in the third, fourth and fifth rounds. It's a huge factor when you see a really muscular guy.
We've commented on it on the broadcast a lot, sometimes to the point where muscular guys like Tyron Woodley have taken umbrage with it and get pissed off at me. It's not that I'm not a Tyron Woodley fan, but if you look at Tyron Woodley and then at the other guys that are 170 pounds, and it's clear that one of these things is not like the others. One guy has a significantly larger amount of muscle than other guys. It works great for him in certain ways, but in other ways you pay the price for that.
I think that if someone wants to compete at 170 pounds, they should f—ing weigh 170 pounds. If someone wants to compete at 185 pounds, that should be what you weigh, and if you want to compete at that weight class, figure out how to get your body down to 185 pounds in a healthy way.