Long-standing UFC commentator Joe Rogan committed a social faux pas as he called himself 'retarded' for making a minor mistake. The mishap could open up the UFC to PR criticism in the future.
In the main event of UFC 169, Renan Barao picked up his first defense as the undisputed bantamweight champion. Early in the fight, Barao hurt Faber with a hard left hook. Faber did his best to recover but ended up turtled on the mat defending a barrage of punches that forced referee Herb Dean to stop the match.
The conclusion of the fight presents some arguments of its own, but that's not what I'm addressing here. Following his defeat,UFC commentator Joe Rogan had a chance to talk with Faber inside the Octagon. Faber was classy in defeat but the post-fight interview still led toward an awkward moment:
Faber said he wanted TJ Dillashaw to get the title shot next.
Faber: "He’s a weight above"
Rogan: "Oh, that’s right. I’m retarded"
Conflating Chad Mendes as a contender in the same division as Faber is an easy mistake to make. Both fighters have enjoyed much success at 145 lbs, so it's excusable that Rogan would have confused the divisions despite being relied on as an expert in the sport.
The real problem lies in his the UFC commentator's dismissal of his mistake where he said "I'm retarded.". That word has become increasingly controversial in recent years as a discriminatory term that's harmful to those suffering mental disabilities. The campaigns against usage of 'retarded' in general conversation have been very prevalent lately.
Regardless of your personal feelings, it's more than obvious that such a controversial word should not be used in a professional setting. That's exactly what Rogan did here. As one of the foremost representatives of the UFC, Rogan exhibited his tendency for impropriety.
The UFC, which stands in the grey area of mainstream and niche sport, having a condoned and supported member of their promotion specifically using controversial language does not help their cause in moving forward into picking up a new audience.