When it comes to the latest controversy du jour, you can usually expect Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President, Dana White, to cut through the bulls—t and tell you what’s up. We say “usually” because we’ve still got questions about the things he had to take care of backstage that prevented him from wrapping the belt around Francis Ngannou’s waist at UFC 270.
But, that was last week’s controversy.
This week’s controversy revolves around White’s long-time friend and UFC commentator, Joe Rogan, who was forced to spend more time apologizing than podcasting after a video compilation resurfaced of him saying the “n-word” multiple times. Rogan was originally scheduled to work alongside Jon Anik and Daniel Cormier at UFC 271 but pulled out at the last minute.
Well, if that sounded like bulls—t to you, that’s because it was.
“I know that came out, but it’s total bulls—t,” White said at the UFC 271 post fight press conference (watch it here).
“There’s no conflict of schedule,” he said. “Joe Rogan didn’t work tonight. Joe Rogan could’ve worked tonight. Yeah, I don’t know what Joe Rogan had to do, you guys will have to ask Joe Rogan. But, there was no ‘Joe couldn’t work’ or anything like that.”
There had been speculation after the news broke that Rogan would skip the event that someone above UFC brass at Endeavor, ESPN or Disney had demanded Rogan be removed from the event. But, based on White’s statement it sounds like it was Rogan himself who decided to step aside given the amount of internet attention he’d received recently.
And what attention it’s been. Rogan has been no stranger to controversy since the COVID-19 pandemic started, regularly bringing on guests that questioned treatment strategies and vaccine safety. That’s led to louder and louder demands from outside groups that Joe’s podcasting partner Spotify do something about all the “disinformation.” Rogan released a video saying he was committed to doing better after various artists like Neil Young pulled their musical catalogues from Spotify. And then the “n-word” video dropped.
Originally put together and released in Jan. 2020 after Rogan endorsed Bernie Sanders, the two-minute video was a back-to-back, non-stop montage of Rogan saying the n-word. It quickly caught on across social media and the comedian quickly put out a response video apologizing.
“I know that to most people, there’s no context where a white person is ever allowed to say that word, never mind publicly on a podcast, and I agree with that now,” Rogan said. “It’s not my word to use.”
That didn’t stop Rogan from continuing to be the focus of a massive Internet dogpile. Every media outlet and celebrity had opinions on the controversy. Some, like Israel Adesanya, defended Rogan. Others, like former U.S. President, Donald Trump, said Rogan shouldn’t apologize at all. The whole thing just continued to spiral out of control and it’s not surprising that Rogan decided to remove himself from the spotlight UFC 271 was going to shine back on him.
That doesn’t mean he wasn’t watching UFC 271 come Saturday night. During the main event, Jon Anik noted that Rogan had texted into the booth saying he thought Israel Adesanya had hurt his hand during his title defense against Robert Whittaker. When asked by Daniel Cormier after the fight if that was the case, Adesanya denied it. But would it really be a UFC pay-per-view (PPV) without Rogan declaring someone was hurt? We think not.
As for when the erstwhile Fear Factor host may return to UFC duties, White gave a bit of a non-answer.
“Whenever he’s going to work again, he’ll be working, yeah,” he said.
We’re three weeks away from UFC 272: “Covington vs. Masvidal” on March 5, 2022. That’s a whole lot of time for things to either blow over or blow up, so we’ll keep you informed, not like it’s possible to escape this story these days.
For complete UFC 271 results and coverage click HERE.