Dana White shoots down scheduling conflict explanation for Joe Rogan's UFC 271 absence
The plot has thickened around Joe Rogan's conspicuous absence from UFC 271.
The UFC broadcast stalwart, currently embroiled in controversy over what some have called vaccine misinformation and use of racial slurs on his popular podcast, was reported as having to miss Saturday's event due to a "scheduling conflict."
After the event, UFC president Dana White was asked about Rogan's absence. He painted the decision for Rogan not to work entirely as Rogan's choice, but said he didn't know why. He also used some coarse language to react to the idea Rogan wasn't allowed to work.
"There's no conflict of schedule. Joe Rogan didn't work tonight. Joe Rogan could have worked tonight ... I don't know what Joe Rogan had to do, you guys will have to ask Joe Rogan. There was no 'Joe couldn't work tonight' or anything like that. I know that came out, it's total bulls***."
Former UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping filled in for Rogan alongside play-by-play man Jon Anik and former heavyweight champ Daniel Cormier.
Whatever kept him away from the broadcast table, Rogan was apparently still watching, as Anik mentioned he received a text from Rogan during the main event between Israel Adesanya and Robert Whittaker, in which he speculated about a hand injury sustained by Adesanya.
Joe Rogan's tidal wave of controversy
Last week, Rogan issued an apology for past things said on his podcast and said his use of racial slurs was "regretful and shameful," though he also said on the same podcast this week that the controversy was a "political hit job."
Spotify, which paid more than $100 million for the right to air Rogan's "The Joe Rogan Experience," has pulled over 100 episodes of the podcast and will start including disclaimers before future episodes.
Speculation was rampant around Rogan's absence for obvious reasons, most notably the possibility that ESPN, which aired UFC 271, and parent company Disney did not want such a divisive figure on their broadcast. YouTuber-turned-boxer Jake Paul, never one to avoid needling the UFC, even claimed that Disney should have pulled White instead.
This is obviously not the first time the comedian has courted controversy, though that never seemed to hurt his relationship with the UFC and White in the past. Rogan has been working for the promotion since UFC 12 in 1997 and started calling fights in 2002.