On Monday, UFC color commentator Joe Rogan wondered aloud on his podcast whether the sport's No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter, UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, isn't as popular as he could be due to racism among part of MMA's fan base.
By Tuesday, Rogan's comments gained traction and kicked up an online storm. As is usually the case, the debate varied from those who looked to have an honest discussion of racism in the sport to trolls who are always trying too hard to portray the worst fringes of the MMA subculture as if they were the norm to everything in between.
By Wednesday, Rogan took to Twitter and claimed he was taken out of context.
"I've been misquoted left & right about Jones lack of popularity," Rogan tweeted. "I said ‘I wonder how much of it is racism' key words WONDER & HOW MUCH."
Moments later, he added, "I didn't say Jones isn't more popular because everyone who dislikes him is racist. It's a subject for debate and discussion, that's it."
Rogan, a standup comedian by trade, is no stranger to making comments which have caused backlash. The most infamous such incident came in 2011, when he referred to a female MMA reporter by a vulgar term.
Here are Rogan's podcast comments on Jones:
"I don't know why Jon is not more loved or popular than he is. I don't understand it. In my opinion, I will never miss a Jon Jones f-- pay-per-view. I've heard people say, 'Oh, he's cocky. He's this and [that].' I wonder what the f-- is going on with that and I'm going to throw this out there, I'm just going to say it: I wonder how much of it is racism. I really do.
"You know why? Because I think they look at him as this cocky black guy and I think a lot of people have an issue with that. I think that if he was a white guy and he was doing the same thing, a la a Chael Sonnen, I think he would be way more popular. Chael was never the successful athlete that Jon is, but I think Chael was way more successful as a promoter than Jon is. Jon has not been nearly as cocky or outwardly braggadocious as Chael was."
"I just always found it odd when everybody would get upset at him and say that they didn't like that 'he's cocky.' He's 25 and he's the UFC's light heavyweight champion. He's the youngest ever UFC champion. He destroyed Shogun [Rua] to win the title and I mean destroyed. He threw a flying knee and hit Shogun in the chin five seconds into their fight. I mean, Jon Jones is a motherf***er. He's a motherf***er, but for whatever reason people have had an issue with that. I know I'm going to get a bunch of hate tweets. 'F**k you and your f***ing bulls**t. What do you got? White guilt? Calling out racism?'
"I'm probably going to get an equal amount from 'the Aryan race,' mad at me for defending Jon Jones, 'The cocky negro.' I really think there's something to that. I think people want a guy who is so physically gifted and young and brash and black and rich, they want him to have more humility or fake humility, as it were. I think Jon's trying that a little bit and that's one of the reasons Daniel Cormier was like, 'You are so fake.' Cormier was saying that to him because I think he's trying to counteract how people feel about him."