Popular podcast host Joe Rogan explains why he believes top Disney and ESPN executives called on Dana White to shut down UFC 249 on April 18.
UFC 249 was highly anticipated by many fight fans as top lightweight stars Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson were finally set to clash after multiple failed attempts to schedule the bout in recent years.
MMA fans were forced to wait a little bit longer, however, after Khabib announced that he would be unwilling to take part due to the current global health crisis and pulled out of the fight.
Despite best efforts from promoter Dana White to keep the card somewhat intact and deliver an event for those stuck at home, it was reported by Ariel Helwani that executives from broadcasters, Disney and ESPN, had completely pulled the plug on UFC 249 only nine days out from the card.
UFC commentator Joe Rogan reacted to the news live while recording a podcast alongside former heavyweight contender Brendan Schaub, and began to speculate about their reasoning behind the sudden cancellation.
“Well I think they probably made a risk assessment and then they made a calculation about the negative aspects of going against government regulations,” he explained, pointing out that the event was set to be held on tribal lands, that were not bound by the same rules, after the lockdown came into effect.
Rogan, who was also scheduled to attend the fight, expressed his disappointment after Disney and ESPN's decision but explained that much of the concern around the event stemmed from the lack of time to set up the correct safety measures.
“Well that saves me a lot of thinking,” Rogan said jokingly. “Damn, I was 75% ready to go, the only thing that worried me was if I definitely could get tested and have to know the results before I come back.”
“As long as the right precautions are in place if this was any other disease and we understood it better I would be way more confident,” he admitted, discussing the number of unknown variables surrounding the current worldwide event.
Although UFC 249 and all future events were indefinitely postponed, Joe Rogan expressed that he had massive respect for Dana White for trying to provide entertainment in this difficult time, even calling him a “mad man” for trying to bypass government regulations to make it happen.