"Fear Factor" host Joe Rogan doesn't like team sports. But the four-time Massachusetts taekwondo champion is a huge fan of martial arts, provides color commentary for the Ultimate Fighting Championship and still works out religiously. The following interview, in fact, was conducted while Rogan lifted weights. Audible grunts have been omitted -- use your imagination.
What's the appeal of Ultimate Fighting?
It's really the only sport that I like -- well, that and boxing. I really don't like sports. What sports really are is just men trying to dominate other men, and the ultimate example of that is fighting. If you slam dunk a ball in a guy's face what you're really trying to say is I just beat your [butt], but you didn't really beat his [butt], you dunked a ball in his face. The definite ending of all sports is you getting knocked . . . out, you getting dominated by another man. A lot of people think it's barbaric -- guess what, we're barbaric. . . . If you drop a ball playing football, the other team scores a point. You make a serious mistake in the UFC, you lose, you get smashed, you get knocked unconscious, you get choked out, you get beaten down, you get dominated by another person.
Should it be in the Olympics?
Yeah, I mean, c'mon, man, curling and ballroom dancing are in and mixed martial arts isn't? I mean, c'mon, what are the Olympics all about? It's all about dominating, it's all about competing.
What's the scariest thing in sports?
Fighting. Fighting, maybe racecar driving, maybe riding a motorcycle. Being a running back when some giant linebacker's bearing down on you. Anything that involves actual physical contact.
What about staring at a six-foot putt?
You think golf is scary? The only thing scary about golf is that you're wasting your life chasing a little ball around the grass.
Would athletes make good "Fear Factor" contestants?
You know what, I would not want a real serious athlete to waste their time doing a show like "Fear Factor." I'd feel horrible, unless they were actually into it. Like Shaquille O'Neal, he's a huge fan, he always wants to get on the show, but we can't find harnesses that fit him. Plus there's a weight restriction, so there's no way Shaq would get in.
Who's the most fearless athlete you've ever seen?
Well, look, all athletes, especially elite athletes, they're all excellent at managing their fear. Everyone has fear. I mean, fearless people are crazy. We like to think people are fearless, because we like to have heroes.
Lions General Manager Matt Millen once publicly called one of his players a coward. Is that the ultimate sports insult?
Oh, sure. Look, all competitive endeavors, every single one of them is about competing, trying to be better than everyone around you and trying to rise to the occasion. . . . You're a professional warrior, basically. If someone during this team war tells you you're a coward, especially a coach, that's a tremendous insult.
If football's such a war, why don't you like it?
Because they have helmets and pads. I think it'd be a lot better if they took their helmets off. They wouldn't hit as hard, though.
-- Dan Steinberg