The Bellator 149 heavyweight fight between Kimbo Slice and Dada 5000 (real name Dhafir Harris) was met with near-universal derision and disappointment with many calling it the worst fight in the history of MMA. The jokes subsided when it was revaled that Dada 5000 suffered renal failure following the fight and, according to reports, almost died. It was a sobering reminder about the disconnect between how we react to sporting events and the human beings actually affected by them.
UFC commentator Joe Rogan was among the loudest critical voices afterward calling it “one of the worst fights I’ve ever seen.” Then, during Sunday night’s UFC Pittsburgh fight companion livestream/podcast with Brendan Schaub, Ian McCall & Eddie Bravo, Rogan went in on Dada 5000’s preparation for the fight and made some comments peppered with a few questionable word choices.
“Yeah, his heart stopped. It was filled with cheeseburgers and fried chicken and orange soda. He didn’t train. There was no way he trained. I mean, he might have trained for a couple of days. You should have lost 40 pounds before. It’s not like you didn’t know you were going to do this.”
Later in the podcast, Rogan wondered aloud if Dada 5000 was courageous for pushing through and continuing to fight even when his body was breaking down. In the background as Rogan reiterates the food list, someone is overheard mentioning “purple drink.” Joking with his co-hosts, he notes that one of them said his initial comments were racist, though it’s more of a ribbing than an actual discussion about the racially-insensitive stereotypical list of foods.
Tuesday, The family of Dada 5000 issued a statement via Facebook calling out Rogan for his “overtly racist and offensive comments.”
“The Harris Family is appalled at the overtly racist and offensive comments directed at Dada 5000 by Joe Rogan who said in an interview that Dada’s heart was filled with “cheeseburgers, fried chicken, and orange soda”, mocking the family’s statement issued the previous day.
“We don’t recall Mr. Rogan ever challenging anyone with this amount of vitriol and ignorant racial overtones, all directed to a man who is still hospitalized.
“For the record, Dada lost 40lbs over course of 3 1/2 months while in training camp where he had a boxing coach an MMA coach, and a nutritionist hired by his team. As fight week approached Dada was only 2-3 pounds over fight weight. He took this fight very seriously as evidenced by his gutsy performance. Mocking Dada 5000 with hurtful and racist comments is despicable and divisive and has no place in the sport of mixed martial arts or in our society.”
Listening to the broadcast, it feels like someone sitting around with a group of bros and cracking jokes. But that’s not an excuse (nor is there any, really) to trot out insenstive stereotypes to diminish a fighter who nearly lost his life trying to make a living and entertain fans.
No word yet from Rogan but we would imagine he will do so soon, either via social media or an upcoming podcast.