UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya views the recent controversy surrounding Joe Rogan in simple terms.

“It’s a systematic way of trying to take power away from someone,” Adesanya said on the “Flagrant 2” podcast.

Rogan, a longtime UFC commentator and popular podcast host, first came under fire late last month when rock legend Neil Young demanded that his music be removed from Spotify in response to Rogan spreading COVID-19 vaccine misinformation on “The Joe Rogan Experience,” which is exclusive to the streaming platform. Other music artists, such as Joni Mitchell, joined Young in protest.

On the heels of that controversy, another emerged when singer India Arie posted a compilation video that showed Rogan using the N-word 24 times on past episodes of his podcast.

The following week, Adesanya passionately came to Rogan’s defense when he intercepted a question intended for UFC president Dana White during the UFC 271 pre-fight news conference. At least part of the reason for doing that, Adesanya explained, was because he believes Rogan’s response to Young and subsequent apology for using a racial slur should’ve sufficed for anyone who was offended.

“I saved Dana’s ass by the way. (The reporter) was trying to set Dana up,” Adesanya said. “I didn’t mean to. I was just like, ‘This motherf*cker.’ Because first off, I know Rogan. His (response to Neil Young) … when he made that video, I was kind of like, man, he handled that really nicely, told his Neil Young story, and he wasn’t even mad. That’s how you handle that. When (the N-word) video came out, yeah, he was wrong. He shouldn’t have said that. And he said ‘I’m sorry.’ That was the most sincere (apology), not scripted-Hollywood-my-manager-wrote-this-down-for-me-to-apologize. What more do you want? It’s just this f*cking culture of just like, ‘No, we’re gonna hold you to your past.’ That’s how many years ago.”

In the wake of the controversy, Rogan didn’t commentate at UFC 271 in Houston where Adesanya successfully defended his title with a unanimous decision win over Robert Whittaker.

Adesanya, a Black man from Nigeria who now lives in New Zealand, said he took umbrage specifically with the N-word controversy. To him, it’s an example of the lengths to which “the powers that be” will go to try and silence Rogan, whose massive audience constantly praises him for questioning mainstream media.

“I love that dude, man,” Adesanya said. “Rogan’s a guy that, for me, look, all right, we know what’s going on. That’s why I said f*ck the noise. Don’t focus on what they want you to focus on; focus on why they’re doing what they’re doing. Do you know how much manpower it takes for someone to go through every single episode of ‘The JRE’? They probably had a whole team on that sh*t and just finding where he was saying the word, find where he was using the N-word. They would’ve had like 10 people on that sh*t and hours of f*cking footage. And it’s like, why now? I’m not saying think like me. Just use your brain.”

He continued, “We know what they do. He’s got the biggest platform right now on earth, and he’s not able to be controlled. So the people, the powers that be … what’s next? It’s gonna be something about a transgender this, or they’ll try and find that. And when that doesn’t work, then they’re gonna go and find something (else) from his past.”

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Adesanya has found himself at the center of controversy over his own use of words before. In February 2020, he said he would make Yoel Romero “crumble like the Twin Towers,” a reference to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York that killed more than 3,000 people. Then in March 2021, Adesanya negatively caught the attention of his own government when he said he would “f*cking rape” Kevin Holland as trash talk.

In both cases, Adesanya admitted wrongdoing and apologized. But after seeing what transpired with Rogan, Adesanya indicated he could react differently if he’s in a similar situation again.

“For me, I speak my truth,” Adesanya said. “I’m just like, you know what, he said sorry. Let it go. I know the guy. He’s the nicest motherf*cker in the game. He’s a cool dude on and off screen. He’s a cool motherfucker. There’s no pushback, there’s no nothing.

“Like I said, I wish they would (come after me). I’m not a saint, I’m not a president, I’m not nothing. I can say whatever the f*ck I want. I fight people for money. That’s my job. Don’t take me seriously. Don’t take me seriously like I’m some kind of candidate or whatever. Yeah, I just speak my truth.”

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