By no metric that I can call to mind was UFC 240 a great event. It was weak and predictable on paper, and it was weak and predictable in execution. As with any fight card featuring 22 professional fighters, there were, of course, some strong performances and good fights, but the overwhelming majority of the card simply ... happened.
Perhaps that’s why Joe Rogan seems so burned out on the mic.
I already expect an angry reaction to this post from Rogan’s alpha-brained following, and I’d like to make it clear ahead of time that I’m a fan of Rogan. He’s been a major part of bringing the sport to a wider audience, is legitimately skilled as a martial artist, and has a very clear passion for the sport and its fighters.
But, that doesn’t change the fact that he was brutally bad at UFC 240. Rogan’s habit of picking a narrative and running with it — regardless of what’s actually happening inside the cage — is well-known. Last night, though, Jon Anik was forced to pick up the pieces more often than not in his attempts to drive the conversation in a direction that at least resembled relevance to the ongoing fight.
UFC 240 was a slog, and that’s precisely the situation when we, the audience, need commentators most to help move things along. While there are numerous examples of strange or outright incorrect Rogan calls from last night’s event, here are the three examples that stood out the most to me:
- Gillian Robertson soundly out-grappled Sarah Frota en route to a second-round technical knockout victory (HIGHLIGHTS!). The fight lasted just about nine minutes, and Rogan spent a majority of them (and a question of the post-fight interview!) talking about Frota’s jiu-jitsu accolades and how special they were. All the while, Robertson was working past the guard and denying submissions with great skill — work that was largely ignored until it ended the bout.
- Rogan may just die holding his breath while he waits for Cris Cyborg to get tired. Every time Cyborg walks to the cage, Rogan talks about her weight cut and how it’s likely to affect her in the cage. Nevertheless, Cyborg can fight 15 or 25 minutes strong, pushing a hard pace and ripping brutal shots. Last night was the latest example, as Rogan claimed Cyborg looked “exhausted” at the end of the first round — a round Cyborg violently dominated, followed by two more rounds which Cyborg violently dominated with no change in pace or demeanor (HIGHLIGHTS!).
- At the end of the third round of their title fight, Frankie Edgar finally scored a takedown on Max Holloway. His control lasted maybe a dozen seconds, and he landed perhaps a handful of punches. Holloway, meanwhile, had spent the entire round jamming his fist into Edgar’s eye socket and splattering nose blood all over the Octagon. Not even a Jersey-boy like myself could hope to argue that round in the favor of “The Answer,” but Rogan spent a silly amount of time discussing the possibility and potential consequences. By the way, did everyone reading know that Max Holloway is the absolute, not-up-for-debate, hands-down, only-an-idiot-would-think-otherwise, 100 percent greatest Featherweight of all time? It was only stated as fact a few dozen times (because f*** Jose Aldo).
It’s really a shame, as Rogan still has a great deal of knowledge. At one point, he anticipated a reverse triangle attempt from Frota — that requires serious foresight! Reverse triangles never happen! That’s a great moment, but it’s immediately soured when Robertson’s escape and subsequent elbows are brushed aside.
Of my two potential topics for this article, the alternative was writing about precisely how mediocre UFC 240 turned out to be at an undeserved $70 price point. That exact situation will surely come again, but hopefully it will be commentated by a different, more interested voice.