Earlier this week, UFC commentator Joe Rogan was still debating whether or not he would participate in UFC 249. UFC President Dana White had said Rogan would definitely be a part of the event, and while it seemed Rogan was leaning that way, he still noted that there were inherent risks to moving forward. Ultimately though, Rogan never had to make a choice on the matter as yesterday, the UFC indefinitely postponed all of its upcoming shows in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
In the aftermath of the announcement, fighters were largely disappointed by the outcome, as was Rogan who learned about the announcement while recording an episode of his Joe Rogan Experience podcast.
“Wow! That’s interesting. Well, that saves me a lot of f*cking thinking,” Rogan said when the news broke. “Damn. I was 75 percent ready to go. The only thing that worried me was if I contracted something and then came in contact with other people. So what I was gonna do is do it if I definitely could get tested and then I would have to know the results before I come back, but f*cking – even then you don’t know.”
UFC 249’s cancellation certainly wasn’t due to lack of trying on the part of Dana White. The UFC President spent the last several weeks attempting to move heaven and Earth to keep the fight alive, changing main events, moving fights around, securing a location away from governmental interference, and even planning to buy a private island to hold international fights there. It was a Herculean effort ultimately undone by the one thing Dana White couldn’t control: the powers that be at Disney. The UFC decided to postpone UFC 249 after executives at ESPN, the UFC’s distribution partner, requested they do so. As Rogan learned about this, he reasoned that this came down to a risk assessment by ESPN, and he was empathetic to White’s position.
“I think they made probably a risk assessment and then they made a calculation of what the negative aspects of going against government regulations, in terms of state government, would be and they probably were like, ‘We can’t do this,’” Rogan said.
“Imagine being the president of the UFC. Imagine having all these fights that you have to make and having all this pressure on you, and you’re also a famous guy like Dana is. Imagine being that guy. F*ck that job. President of the UFC is second only to President of the United States. [Laughs]. Bro, he’s under ridiculous amounts of pressure. . .
“The most important thing is he’s a psychotic driving force for the most exciting organization in the world and I don’t think the organization gets where it is without Dana White. I think you have to have a crazy person at the wheel. You have a guy who doesn’t give a f*ck. He’s a real man. He doesn’t give a f*ck, he’ll talk sh*t, he’ll insult people, he’ll go back with you.”
White would not go back at ESPN though and so the UFC is now in the same holding pattern as the rest of the world. But hopefully not for long. White has said that he intends to be the first event back when it’s feasible to do so and Rogan agrees with the sentiment, saying he’d support holding events as soon as it’s realistically possible to do so in a safe manner.
“As long as the right precautions are in place, I agree,” Rogan said. “But the thing is, you’ve got to measure, if this was any other disease where we understood it better, I would be way more confident. . . I don’t want people who are less robust than Michael Yo [a friend of Rogan’s who contracted coronavirus and recovered following a stay in the hospital] to die, so we’ve got to figure out what the f*ck this virus is, how does it get treated, what’s the most effective way, and then it makes sense that we’re a little bit more loose with our regulations.”
How long that will be is anyone’s guess but for now, Rogan at least seems a little relieved that he did not have to make the choice on attending UFC 249.
“Listen man, I was hesitant,” Rogan concluded. “I was like, ‘I really want to go’, I was leaning towards going, but I’m like, ‘God, I don’t want to hear it from people who don’t think it’s a good idea.’ I’m not interested in putting myself at risk but my real concern was how do I know if I contract it and then bring it back, how am I gonna know? And then I had to be honest with myself and I really wouldn’t know. So the only way I’d be able to do it is to do it and then be in quarantine until I get tested, and I was like, ‘Oh Jesus Christ.’”