Joe Rogan will return to the broadcast booth for the first time at UFC 271 on Saturday night after he’s been at the center of a number of controversies, including a viral video that showed him repeatedly using racial slurs during past episodes of his podcast.
In response to the video, Rogan issued a lengthy apology while calling his error “the most regretful and shameful thing” he’s had to address during his entire career.
On Thursday, UFC President Dana White was asked to address the situation. But before he could even attempt to answer, he was interrupted by reigning middleweight champion Israel Adesanya coming to Rogan’s defense.
“First off, let me take this one, hold up I’m Black, I can take this one,” Adesanya shouted during the UFC 271 pre-fight press conference. “There’s a lot of c*nts in this game, there’s a lot of snakes in this game.
“I’ve been in this fight game since 2008 and Joe Rogan is one of the nicest, coolest, humble motherf*ckers I’ve had the pleasure of working with. Understand that. F*ck the noise.”
The attacks on Rogan started primarily in response to a number of his podcast guests who were accused of spreading “dangerous misinformation” regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Spotify — the streaming service that signed Rogan to a deal worth more than $100 million in 2020 — later announced plans to put a warning at the start of any episode that featured discussions about COVID-19.
After that change was made, Rogan said he agreed with the new policy and stated that he planned to have a more fair and balanced guest list to encourage discussion, but also to offer rebuttals to certain opinions being discussed on his show.
Musicians such as Neil Young and Joni Mitchell then pulled their catalogues off Spotify in protest after company refused to remove Rogan’s podcast altogether.
Days later, singer India Arie announced she was also planning on deleting all of her music from Spotify. But her reasoning was due to the video featuring Rogan using racial slurs. Following Rogan’s apology, Arie said he did a “fine job” admitting fault for using that language on his show while also slamming Spotify’s overall business practices in relation to artists.
Rogan had a number of high-profile politicians and celebrities coming to his defense, including former President Donald Trump, who said the veteran comedian shouldn’t have apologized in the first place.
For his part, Rogan said that he had no regrets about issuing the apology, but he did call the viral video a “political hitjob.”
It appears Adesanya agrees with him on that much.
“You know what they’re trying to do,” said the UFC middleweight champ, who on Saturday defends his title in a rematch against Robert Whittaker. “You can’t control the man, and he’s got the biggest platform in the world right now. That’s my n---- Joe Rogan.
“[My advice is] f*ck the noise. Do what I said, f*ck the noise. Keep doing you, Joe. Have some mushrooms, keep doing you.”