Joe Rogan talks about judo vs. wrestling, how UFC has become a wrestler’s game, and how that will impact the Chael Sonnen/Anderson Silva fight
By Zach Arnold | May 19, 2010
Any time you get an hour-plus long radio interview with Joe Rogan, you listen to it because he’s bound to say a few things that will get a rise or a reaction out of you. He did just that on his Monday interview on Tapout radio.
The radio show hosts asked him a question about judo in MMA and if we’ll see more judokas take over as champions in the sport.
“Well, I certainly think that the top judokas can translate very easily to MMA, I mean not very easily but I think it’s an excellent form of martial art to transfer to MMA with. You know much like Greco is and you know much like wrestling is like any strong grappling background, you know (Pawel) Nastula in PRIDE he did really well and of course (Hidehiko) Yoshida had a great run in PRIDE you know two guys who are outstanding judo players. The ability to manipulate guy’s bodies and throw them around and control them which is what Judo is all about is such an important skill for MMA.
“I personally think that the very best skill for MMA is wrestling, I think that’s the number one base to come from because those guys just flat out dictate where the fight takes place. You know, a great wrestler, you get a guy in there like a (Josh) Koscheck or like GSP you know they can just dictate what [expletive] happens. If they decide to take you to the ground, you’re going to the ground. You’re going to have to learn how to fight off your back and it’s not your strong suit. Even if you train for six hard weeks working guys off your back, the bottom is line for 10 years you’ve been training in stand-up and you’ve been training in your top game and you really haven’t put that much time into working off your back and you know six months is not going to fix you for GSP. He’s going to pass your [expletive], he’s going to mount you, he’s going to beat you up, he’s going to take you down the next round and do it it all over again, so I think it’s the important skill, in my opinion.”
This answer transitioned into a question about the fact that UFC is seeing a dominant breed of “wrestle-boxers,” especially in the Lightweight division, and the problems it is posing for fighters who don’t have a strong wrestling background. Rogan mentioned Thiago Alves, someone who was being touted for his ability to stop takedowns and then… UFC 100 happened and Georges St. Pierre destroyed that image for good.
“You look at Thiago Alves, talk about Alves’ outstanding takedown defense, it’s really good but he could not stop GSP from taking him down. A guy who’s a better wrestler is going to take down a guy who’s not as good of a wrestler, it’s just the facts, it’s just the way it is so what these guys have to do is you have two options: one, you got to get really good at wrestling yourself which is what Georges did, you know when Georges first started fighting… had good submission skills but then somewhere along the line in his career he became the most successful wrestler in Mixed Martial Arts, you know I mean it’s really just the hard work that he put up there in Canada working with all those Russian guys up there, there’s some really high-level Russian wrestlers that he was working with and I talked to Randy Couture about it and he said yeah, those guys that Georges is training with he goes ‘when I found out who those guys were I knew that’s why he was getting better, those guys are animals.’ So I mean he just put in all that time and I think it’s just a huge part of MMA. If you don’t have a kill guard, if you’re not some (Shin’ya) Aoki character and now you look at Aoki versus Gilbert Melendez, he wasn’t able to do anything either, you know, the ability to be the guy who dictates where the fight takes place is so huge. And then these wrestlers become really good strikers like these Ryan Bader type characters who are you know real strong wrestlers but now all of a sudden they’re blasting dudes on their feet and it’s up to them whether or not you stand up. They’re going to be the ones deciding because you’re not going to take them down and if you do take them down he’s going to bounce right back up to his feet and if he wants to take you down, he’s going to take you down, so it’s such a huge, huge advantage.”
“That’s what happens when your wrestling’s not so good, you get the [expletive] beat out of you… He was getting lit up and that’s the problem with not having good takedowns, not being a good wrestler. Demian Maia is in an awkward situation because he’s much more successful once the fight becomes a grappling match but his best aspect is not being able to take guys down. His best aspect is being able to you know his ability to impose himself once the fight is already on the ground, so he’s in this terrible limbo where he can’t get a hold of Anderson and standing up with him is just suicidal so he was just getting lit up and he can’t grab the guy, you know that’s what happen when you have mediocre wrestling.”
Which, appropriately, leads us to the upcoming Anderson Silva title defense against Chael Sonnen, who is all about a dominant wrestling game and taking guys down and beating on them. Sonnen was able to beat Yushin Okami, a fighter who a lot of Middleweights had trouble facing because Okami “felt too strong” in the cage — and Sonnen outpointed him. Will Sonnen’s wrestling ability actually translate into legitimate offense against someone as crafty as Anderson?
“Well, it’s certainly an interesting match-up. I don’t know if it’s the key to beating him. It’s certainly in Chael’s opinion the key to making him fight and I love Chael Sonnen, I’m a huge fan of his. I’m a huge fan of Anderson’s as well, I think Anderson is the best pound-for-pound guy in the world but I’m a huge fan of the way Chael carries himself, that dude cracks me up. He’s [expletive] hilarious. His interviews are gold, man. He’s really funny, he’s super-smart and he’s super-honest about [expletive] like getting hurt and you know what it’s like you know when he gets tagged you know, when he thought he was in trouble that it doesn’t matter he’s just never quit like his attitude like the way he manhandled Nate Marquardt, his skill level, I mean the dude he’s finally fighting up to his true potential and the Yushin Okami fight and the Nate Marquardt fight, he really fought up to his true potential and if he can get a hold of Anderson and get him to the ground, it could make it very interesting and that’s where it’s going to be difficult, man, it’s going to be difficult. It’s going to be very difficult. Anderson is going to be coming into this fight knowing what happened in his last fight and a lot of people are sort of rooting against him and he has to kind of reestablish himself as the baddest motherf***** in the world and he’s going to know that so he’s going to come into this fight in tremendous shape, very focused. I think it’s also very possible that he might have taken the Demian Maia fight lightly. I think he felt like Demian had no chance of taking him to the ground and that stand-up wise they were so outmatched. In the case of Sonnen, Sonnen’s going to be able to get a hold of him, a [expletive] power double and if he gets a hold of dudes, he drives through until he takes you down, man, his takedowns are outstanding and you know guys have taken Anderson before. (Dan) Henderson took Anderson down, Travis Lutter took Anderson down although Travis Lutter did it 11 weeks after Anderson had surgery on his knees, but you know the point remains he took them down and if Chael Sonnen takes him down, it’s going to be hard for him to get up. He’s going to take some elbows, he’s going to take some shots, we’re going to see some [expletive] happen to him. If Chael Sonnen gets him on his back we’re going to see some [expletive] happen to him that we haven’t seen before and that’s what’s exciting about that fight.”
We’ll see a lot of “wrestle-boxers” in action in August with Sonnen vs. Anderson and the two big fights on the Boston card with BJ Penn vs. Frankie Edgar in a re-match and Kenny Florian vs. Gray Maynard.