Joe Rogan Recalls His First UFC Gig


4 years ago



Jim Norton

10 appearances

Jim Norton is a stand-up comic, actor, broadcast personality, and podcaster. He co-hosts the "UFC Unfiltered" podcast with Matt Serra, and "Jim Norton & Sam Roberts" show on SiriusXM.


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Richie's brother was a mixed martial arts commentator. He was a sports guy. He did World Combat Championships, I think it was called. It was like he was the play-by-play guy, or the color, yeah, he was the play-by-play guy. And it was like the early days of fighting when the UFC had just started and Henzo Gracie fought Oleg Tachtarov and Richie's brother was the play-by-play commentator. Really? Yeah, like he did the John Anick, Mike Goldberg role. Yeah, I remember thinking this is so crazy because I don't think at the time I had even done any work for the UFC. I think at the time I was just a fan. Where did you start then? 97. Oh, okay. 20 years. 23 years. Jesus. Nothing nuts. I was 12 and Dothan, Alabama. How was your first broadcast? They didn't give me any instruction. Nobody told me what to do. Nobody told me how to do it. Nobody told me shit. They just said, do you want to gig interviewing the fighters after the fights? I was like, sure. And then it was so rinky dink. We were in this weird little fucking hotel and this weird, and that's where we were staying. We flew in there on a propeller plane. The gig was supposed to be in Buffalo, New York, but New York State banned it at the last minute. So Bob Meyerowitz, who was the owner of the company, and Campbell McLaren, who was the guy who hired me, they told me, you're going down to Alabama instead. Like what? So I flew into one part of Alabama and then took a puddle jumper and landed in Dothan. And that was like the place where they were allowed to do the show there. And there's this little auditorium. It wasn't very big at all. The first show I ever worked at marked the Hammer Coleman beat Dan Severn for the UFC heavyweight title, UFC 12. Vitor Belfort made his debut. And I was actually training at Vitor's school. I was a white belt, Carlson Gracie's in 97. And that's where Vitor, and I had been there since 96. I started training there in 96. And then in 97, Vitor was making his UFC debut. And just by sheer luck, I happened to be at the actual gym with Carlos Bejeto and Mario Sperry and all these like just assassins back then. And I got to be the post-fight interview guy. Yeah, it was nuts, man. That's me. Yeah. Oh, yeah. So cute. A little cutie pie. Yeah. So that was way, way back in the Dizzy, man. 1997. Rodrigo Madero's. There's Vitor. When you think in 97, you're like, fuck, I was doing comedy seven years by that point. Like it's a long time ago, and I was already in the business. Yeah, I was nine years in at that point in comedy, because I started in 88. And I didn't book gigs along. I actually had to quit because it was costing me money. Because if I would go to do a UFC, I don't remember how much I made. It wasn't that much to do the interview stuff. But then if I could do a comedy gig, I could make like two grand for a weekend. So I was like, why am I doing that? When I can make two grand? Like, what am I doing? I'm making like one instead of two. So it was just costing me money. Plus, anything that got in the way of comedy was difficult too. It was, but for me, my life started with martial arts. I mean, that was also, you know, I started in 88. And the last time I fought was 89. So that was probably, you know, somewhere in the neighborhood of, you know, eight years since my like serious competition day. So I still loved it. I was still into it. And I was loving that this new thing was around. So I was happy to be there. Even though it wasn't like, it wasn't affecting my career in a good way. In fact, the people that were, I was on news radio at the time, and the people that were the producers were like, what the fuck are you doing? Like why are you doing this? Like why would, why would they, they treated me like I was going off to do like porn. Right. What is this fucking violent thing you're talking about and being a part of and putting your face on? But yeah, and I was like an expert. I was the expert interviewer asking people questions, doing things like you're attaching yourself to cage fighting. The fuck is wrong with you? But I loved it, man. I loved it. I'm so excited to see this happen because we had always wondered when, when I started doing martial arts, you know, I started in karate, but I did like a little bit of kung fu. Then I did karate. The kung fu was like one lesson and then a little bit of karate. But then I got balls deep into Taekwondo, but we always, everybody always wanted to know what was the best martial art. And I switched from Taekwondo and I started doing kickboxing and boxing because I realized like my hands were terrible. And then I'm like, man, I thought it was good because I was good at Taekwondo, but this boxing stuff is more important to learn. I need to learn that. And then I started doing jiu jitsu and getting strangled. I'm like, fuck, I don't know anything. And I remember thinking when the UFC came along, finally, we're going to figure out what works.