Following the main event at UFC 246 last week, Smith joined Rogan on ESPN to discuss Conor McGregor's 40-second TKO defeat over Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone. And, let's just say, Smith wasn't pleased with how the fight went down.
"Here’s the deal: 15 seconds in, 'Cowboy' Cerrone was done," Smith said in the post-fight analysis. "He got hit with those shoulders in the clinch, and he was done. It look like he gave up. It was just an atrocious performance on his part."
Nearly a week after UFC 246, Rogan addressed Smith's comments on an episode of his MMA podcast. The 52-year-old criticized Smith's take on McGregor as uninformed, and said he was in no position to analyze this particular sport.
"I don’t know him as a human being. I’ve only met him a couple of times," Rogan told his guest, UFC legend Daniel Cormier. "He’s a nice guy, nice guy to me. We had a nice conversation. On air, we had a little weirdness because he was just saying ‘we didn’t learn anything about Conor!’ I’m like ‘the fuck you didn’t!’ He just destroyed Cowboy in 40 seconds ... Yeah, you learned something, you just don’t know what you saw."
Rogan then went on to say that there were plenty of other people ESPN could've selected for the post-fight analysis, and said Smith's comments were a bad look for pretty much everyone involved.
"With fighting, you have to know it, or no one’s going to respect you," he said. "If you don’t know what you’re talking about and you’re talking about it in front of millions of people, man that’s a bad look for everybody. It’s a bad look for ESPN, it’s a bad look for him, it’s a bad look for the sport. It’s like… there’s other people that can do this."
Rogan continued: "There’s a lot of currency in being a Stephen A. Smith, you know? He’s really entertaining. The shit-talking that he does…. he’s a guy that’s fun to watch. He talks a lot of shit and he gets real loud and everybody disagrees with him. Look, it’s made him a fantastic career. That’s why, and he carries that over to MMA. I think it’s a bad idea."
Well, Smith caught wind of Rogan's remarks and clearly wasn't thrilled. On Saturday afternoon, the ESPN commentator responded to an MMA Junkie tweet that included a quote from Rogan's rant. Smith reassured his followers he would "respond to this BULLSHIT" before the end of the day.
Shortly after 8 p.m. ET, Smith posted an Instagram video claiming that his analysis didn't warrant Rogan's criticism.
"Mad respect to Joe Rogan, nothing but respect for the man and the tremendous work that he has done and will continue to do ..." Smith began. "I certainly don't claim to be the aficionado you are, or anybody else covering this sport. But excuse me, I have been a reporter for 25 years, I have covered sports on a variety of competitive levels, regardless of what the sport is. That includes boxing and the UFC."
He doubled down on his initial remarks about McGregor, insisting he did not learn anything about the fighter during the Cerrone matchup. Smith also acknowledged that Rogan was entitled to his opinion, but invited the UFC commentator to express his thoughts to his face.
"But anytime you want to talk to me about this fight, or you want to talk to me about my credentials to discuss something in the world of sports, name the time and place, Joe Rogan, and I'll show up. It's not a problem," he said. "... You don't know me, so I'm not going to knock you for speaking out the way you spoke out ... You're just wrong on this particular point, and I'm telling you you're wrong. Conor McGregor did not get the opportunity to show us enough ..."
McGregor addressed the situation Friday night, arguing that Smith's primary error was suggesting Cerrone had given up: "Fighting is vicious," he tweeted in response to Smith's video. "Those who make the walk deserve full respect! Apologise."