As it turns out, neither is Smith.
The spat started after Rogan criticized Smith for saying he felt like Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone quit in his fight against Conor McGregor. While the bout did end in just 40 seconds, Cerrone left the cage with a broken nose and broken orbital bone, and Rogan believed it was unfair to launch that level of criticism at a true legend of the sport. Add to that, Rogan suggested that perhaps Smith didn’t fully understand mixed martial arts enough to make those kinds of calls.
Smith then fired back at Rogan while justifying his comments — although he never directly addressed his initial statement that he felt like Cerrone quit in the Octagon after facing off with McGregor.
Rogan has now offered his own response while further explaining why he took such issue with what Smith initially said after the fight.
“I was upset at Stephen A. Smith and he made a video responding to me,” Rogan said Tuesday on the JRE podcast. “Stephen A. Smith, I guess I should respond – you’re a very entertaining guy, I like you a lot, and I appreciate the props you gave me in that video, but you’re wrong. ‘Cowboy’ got f*cked up with those shoulders in the clinch. He had Conor’s arms tied up and they’re in close spaces, Conor dips low and slams the bone of the shoulder into the nose.
“At the beginning of the round, Conor’s a f*cking super explosive guy. Super explosive. Just all muscle, f*cking pulled tight at the beginning of the fight and just bang, bang! He got off good shots and “Cowboy” was confused. Stephen A. Smith said that he felt like ‘Cowboy’ quit. ‘Cowboy’ did not quit. He got smashed.”
Rogan’s problems with the commentary Smith made would likely be the same for any UFC athlete, but especially when considering the long list of accolades that Cerrone has racked up during his career.
In fact, the 52-year-old comedian agreed with McGregor, who also blasted Smith’s initial response when he tried to justify his fight night commentary while adding that he owed an apology for what he said.
“You’re talking about a guy who has the most fights in the UFC, the most finishes in the UFC, the most head kick knockouts in the UFC, the most bonuses in the UFC. ‘Cowboy’ is a f*cking legend. He is as tough as they come,” Rogan said. “He’s lost before. Every human can lose, especially when you’re fighting guys like Darren Till and Jorge Masvidal and these f*cking animals that he’s fighting. He’s fighting the cream of the crop like Conor, and Conor broke literally broke his face. He broke his nose and he broke his orbital bone.
“So Stephen A. Smith responded, and then Conor responded, and Conor told him to apologize, and Conor’s right.”
For his part, Smith sticks by his criticism. His bigger problem with Rogan comes down to the longtime UFC color commentator saying his post-fight tirade was a detriment to the UFC and ESPN.
“If you want to disagree with me, you’re the great Joe Rogan,” Smith told ESPN on Wednesday.” I respect that. I’m honored that you took into account my opinion. But to take it the point where it wasn’t a good look for me to be there, it wasn’t a good look for ESPN to be there, I thought that was beyond the pale. I thought it was excessive and unnecessary. I certainly have profound respect for him, what he means to the UFC and MMA sports, who he is. He was incredibly nice to be, and I’ll continue to be respectful and very nice to him.
“I harbor no animosity or whatever. I just thought to disagree with me would be one thing, but to act like I didn’t even belong at the event because I have an opinion that was different than yours, I thought that was unfair.”
As far as McGregor goes, Smith won’t be offering an apology to him, either.
“I will not apologize, and I will not backtrack from my position, and I don’t care what Conor McGregor or Joe Rogan says, although I profoundly respect them both,” Smith added. “We will just have to respectfully disagree on what we saw.”
Rogan did offer some friendly advice to the “First Take” co-host when it comes to future calls involving mixed martial arts.
“I think the problem is Stephen A. Smith, who’s a very entertaining guy and is very knowledgeable about other sports, this is not his wheelhouse,” Rogan said. “That style of dismissing athletes and putting people down — that’s how he made his name and it’s fun to listen to. He’s a fun guy to listen to. He talks great sh*t. I just think that this sport demands more appreciation, more respect and it demands a higher level of reverence to the athletes who literally put their lives on the line. It’s different.”