A podcast exists for every topic, and MMA alone offers a seemingly infinite supply to select from. Having a podcast of my own, I’d—of course—love for everyone to join me on a Thursday and/or Sunday evening from 7 to 8 pm PST for an episode of Check-In with NorCal MMA (link here), but, if—for some reason—you decided to sacrifice a week with me for another, maybe more tantalizing, voice, I’m here to share with you a list of five must-listens.
#1 Joe Rogan Experience
School is in session when Joe Rogan’s podcast, otherwise known as the Joe Rogan Experience (JRE), hits the airwaves live on YouTube (link here) because each episode proves itself to be a learning experience.
The lengthy show is also available via an audio-only format—great while on-the-go—but a chunk of commercials read by Rogan bookend the podcast. Though these commercials can be easily bypassed, they’re often more entertaining than most any other podcast—including mine!
In a top five list of MMA podcasts, I haven’t even touched on any specific MMA content produced by the JRE to place it on the mountain’s peak, which actually exemplifies my justification for its positioning. From spiritual journeys, tales of a hunt, his latest appearance on a Netflix special or as a commentator for the UFC, and a tremendous range of topics filling the gaps in between, many paths of exploration become visible—or not. You may realize some guests aren’t your cup of tea; fear not, it’s inevitable Rogan will return to his studio with someone who will tickle your fancy through your earbuds.
Even the episodes that are supposed to be geared specifically toward MMA, entitled Joe Rogan Experience: MMA Show, go off on scenic bird-walks and riveting tangents. I’m constantly reminded in these roundabouts away from MMA: MMA may house a cage in every corner of the globe, but it shouldn’t be the cornerstone of your personal world. It isn’t often I follow the flock, but, in this instance, the Deathsquad sheep—the millions following Rogan and his band of zany friends—are definitely in a pasture I prefer.
#2 MMA Junkie Radio
The inner-workings of MMA’s community can often resemble that of a large, dysfunctional family, but two brothers, “Gorgeous” George (@MMAJunkieGeorge) and Brian “Goze” (@TheGoze) Garcia, attempt to rally the masses on a daily basis, Monday through Friday, at MMA Junkie Radio (link here).
For nearly 3,000 episodes, “Gorgeous George” and “Goze” have filled their phone lines and studio with a diverse collection of the sport’s stakeholders. From champions at the upper echelon, promoters of amateur and professional organizations, media members, fans, and many others, everybody—one and all—was accepted with warmth.
I became a listener of MMA Junkie Radio sometime late into 2013. Talk radio was already a part of my daily consumption, though, for some unknown reason, I hadn’t yet escaped to the Google cave to explore if there was something similar related to mixed martial arts. I always considered myself to have an odd addiction to the sport before the search engine revealed that I may have all along been a “Junkie”—it was love at first click.
Callers patched in had similar perspectives as I did about a major upcoming event or one that recently passed—some were more far-fetched, yet I still appreciated their insight. References of various social media platforms: a recent post made by a particular fighter, a major announcement by a leading promotion, or some other tidbit would always grasp firmly to my curiosity.
Shortly after tapping into this new digital dimension with my own handle (@davemmaden), I developed a burning desire to publish articles of my own, especially in the wake of the thirtieth site I had seen generating the exact same headline about a topic that caused MMA’s bubble to pop with excitement. The website I eventually reared from a blank template to represent Northern California and the Central Valley, norcalmixedmartialarts.com; the blog you’re at right now; countless articles I contributed to “news outlets” in the past; none of it would have come to fruition without the infamous Garcia brothers painting an image of an online Mecca that every fan, wannabe journalist, or anyone else who wants a little more face-punching in their lives should go to—and they were right!
I would have been perfectly content as an idle listener of MMA Junkie Radio for as long as they flooded me with fight talk, but during a trip to Las Vegas to watch the show in the flesh, I was invited to sit with them at their desk, treated as if I were a peer, and participate in a show’s segment. My interaction with “Gorgeous” George, “Goze”, and anyone else in studio on that particular day, or any of the several summer visits I’ve made back since then, demonstrated the bonds formed by those who share a passion of MMA can be tighter than the links of a fence that revolve around a sport that’s, especially for a “Junkie”, intoxicating.
#3 The Co-Main Event Podcast
In a sport as real as it gets, the creative stylings of The Co-Main Event (The CME) Podcast (link here) can almost make such a reality seem like fiction.
The hosts of the podcast, Chad Dundas (@chaddundas) from Bleacher Report and Ben Fowlkes (@BenFowlkesMMA) from MMA Junkie/USA Today, are certain to shine a spotlight on MMA’s silly side while discussing topics that have recently made their way into news cycle. Not only are the hottest headlines reviewed in a manner of discourse unlike any other, every round and segment, such as “Master Tweet Theatre” and “Are You Fucking Kidding Me?”, should staple you to your sound system with some spot-on hot takes.
It’s rare, but even on those weeks when there isn’t a UFC or Bellator event scheduled, which The CME would dub as, “Ain’t shit going on,” the podcast continues to crank out episodes as a popularized soundboard.
#4 MMA Roasted Podcast
If you’re ever in search of having combinations landed to your funny bone, strike the “link here” button with the cursor and don’t miss the next installment of the MMA Roasted Podcast (link here).
Comedian Adam Hunter (@MMARoasted), the host, hits listeners with his passion for promoting MMA and punchlines that’ll leave your side in need of an experienced cutman. Although some conversations between Hunter and his in-studio co-hosts, which often includes some assortment of fighter, another comedian, and a producer who receives—and desperately requires—life advice, can take unexpected turns, the interview segments are sure to unlock aspects of the athletes like that of a treasure box, coaxing them to answer questions related to sex, failed relationships, as well as a range of topics that a “serious” journalist would never ask. The cocktail of Hunter’s background in comedy with work he does within the sport’s landscape, such as writing sketches for the Fighter’s Only World MMA Awards or recording commercials for the Professional Fighters League (PFL), is guaranteed to keep you coming back to such a strangely perverse watering hole as a pleasurable podcast.
#5 Keyboard Warriors
Each week, Keyboard Warriors (link here)—hosted by Eddie Law (@ELaw31), alongside Fred Kirby (@Kirby_MMA) and Jesse Ruvalcaba (@spwat1983)—cuts their teeth into what’s buzz-worthy in the hurt business’ brutal biome. To be honest, there’s an MMA podcast around every corner. A show such as Keyboard Warriors epitomizes the idea of just how wild MMA fandom can run.
Want, not need, fuels the live feed, found on YouTube, of Keyboard Warriors. Regardless of how many people are participating with the conversation in the comments section, everyone is embraced, acknowledged, and sure to hear a string of unapologetic commentary from a panel of experts in their own right—exactly the way MMA content should be served.
Honorable mentions aside, the list would, otherwise, never end. Also, I have some listening of my own to get to—as do you. What podcasts, if already, are you subscribed to and find yourself revisiting week after week?