The beef between them started after Smith made some comments that stirred controversy in the MMA community. Stephen A. Smith remarked that it was because of "fear" that Donald Cerrone was finished in forty seconds by Conor McGregor in the main event of UFC 246. The comments he made came off as disrespectful towards the legendary 'Cowboy' Cerrone.
While Joe Rogan countered Smith's points during the broadcast, he also undertook the case in an episode of his podcast.
Rogan spoke about how Smith's comments came from a backdrop of very little knowledge of the sport. He explained how Donald Cerrone holds several records, including most fights and most finishes. He further stated that saying that he was scared to fight back is an insult to the credibility Cerrone holds.
Stephen A. Smith responded to Joe Rogan via a Twitter video. He started out by apologizing to Rogan, but reasserted the fact that his analysis was correct.
Joe Rogan viewed the clip and responded to Smith in another episode of his podcast:
“I was upset at Stephen A. Smith and he made a video responding to me. 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 messed 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 super explosive guy. Just all muscle, he 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.”
Joe Rogan believes that Stephen A. Smith's general style of reporting did not sit well in professional MMA
Coming onto why MMA reporting turned out the way it did for Stephen A. Smith, Joe Rogan said:
“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. 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 (expletive). 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.”
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