UFC’s Dana White, Joe Rogan on Variety’s most powerful people list

    Two of the longest tenured faces of the UFC have landed on a key list of the most powerful entertainers in the world.

    UFC president Dana White and longtime broadcast analyst Joe Rogan are part of the 2021 Variety 500, an annual list put out by Variety magazine of “the most powerful people working in the global entertainment and media business.”

    White and Rogan are part of the Live Entertainment section of the list. That section includes WWE president and chief revenue officer Nick Khan, veteran radio host Howard Stern, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, NBA commissioner Adam Silver and musical theater legend Andrew Lloyd Webber.

    White’s entry includes a caption under a reasonably outdated mug shot that says, “While other sports league chiefs take a hard line on pandemic safety, he thumbs his nose at coronavirus concerns.”

    The entry leads with White’s stance on UFC fighters and COVID-19 vaccinations.

    “White declared the Ultimate Fighting Championship would never require its fighters to be vaccinated, continuing his controversially contrary approach to coronavirus safety,” White’s entry reads. “Under the UFC’s contract with ESPN, the league was required to stage 42 fights in 2020, and White did his best to deliver, putting on UFC 249 in Florida in May and. holding a series of fights in the league’s Las Vegas production facilities, all without an audience, before moving the action to Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island (dubbed Fight Island), where several thousand fans were allowed to watch the matches in-person. Beginning in the spring of 2021, White began holding full-scale UFC events in the U.S., with no masks or social distancing required.”

    Rogan’s entry also features a mug shot well past its prime – from when Rogan still had hair and wasn’t a head-shaver. Its caption reads, “He and his no-holds-barred podcast have proved themselves cancellation-proof in the face of multiple controversies.”

    To be certain, Rogan’s inclusion on the list has everything to do with the massive Spotify deal he landed in 2020 for his podcast and very little, if anything, to do with his work with the UFC.

    “In the wake of signing a $100 million Spotify deal in 2020, Rogan and his podcast ‘The Joe Rogan Experience’ became a favorite target of critics for his attacks on ‘woke’ culture and vaccine passports, and his controversial guests including conspiracy-loving radio host Alex Jones,” Rogan’s entry reads. “He inspired internal protests by Spotify employees, who alleged that the podcast was transphobic. To top that off, he ignited a fresh firestorm in September when he admitted that he had contracted COVID-19 and was treating it with ivermectin, a drug meant for parasitic infections, not viruses. And none of that seemed to harm the popularity of his show. Rogan, who has worked as a sitcom actor (‘Newsradio,’ 1995-99) and reality-series host (‘Fear Factor,’ 2001-06, 2011-12), continues to perform stand-up and do color commentary for UFC matches.”

    Rogan has scaled back his UFC live commentary duties in recent years to include only pay-per-view events. And even with that, he hasn’t done all of them. His polarizing stance on treating his Fall 2021 case of COVID-19 was picked up by White, who said in early December his entire immediate family was positive for the virus – and that he had taken Rogan’s advice on how to treat it.

    After a few weeks off for the holidays, the UFC returns to action next week with UFC on ESPN 32 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.

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