5. Brendan Schaub
Okay so technically this discussion did not take place on the Joe Rogan Experience and was instead an episode of Brendan Schaub and Bryan Callen's podcast The Fighter and The Kid. However, as it was filmed in the JRE studio, Rogan steered the conversation throughout, and it was the only episode on this list that led to someone involved literally changing careers, it is definitely worthy of inclusion.
When this episode was broadcast Brendan Schaub was just three days removed from his fight with Travis Browne at UFC 181. Schaub was defeated in the fight after being dropped by a stiff uppercut and eventually finished with a barrage of ground and pound in the first round.
The defeat marked Schaub's fourth knockout loss in the previous five years and throughout the podcast, Rogan made no attempt to hide the fact that he was concerned for his friend's future well-being if he continued to compete in mixed martial arts.
The conversation would get more uncomfortable as Rogan went on to tell Schaub that, in his opinion, Schaub was not capable of becoming UFC champion and that he would be better off focusing on his ventures outside the cage:
The reality of your skillset and where you’re at now, I don’t see you beating the elite guys, I don’t see you beating Cain Velasquez. I don’t see you beating Junior Dos Santos. I don’t see you beating Fabricio Werdum.
Schaub countered by saying that while he appreciated his friend's concern, it's easy for Rogan to tell him to give up his career when its not his livelihood at stake.
I think it’s easy for you to sit there, with, whatever, $12 million in the bank and say, ‘Oh, you need to stop doing this,’ It’s easier when you’re set and you don’t come from that background and you’re going home to your wife and kids and $6 million mansion and say ‘Stop doing this and do podcasts for the next 40 years'.
Though brutally awkward at times, the conversation highlighted a lot of the debates that rage in high-level combat sports where athletes have to ask themselves if it is worth risking their health long term in the pursuit of success and glory, particularly when many don't have a secondary occupation to fall back on.
This podcast did inspire positive change however, Schaub took Rogan's advice on board and did not compete in the Octagon again. In the years since, he has gone on to become a successful podcaster and comedian in his own right.