Conor McGregor is facing Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a little over a week, but a lot of people are still talking about the controversial sparring sessions with Paulie Malignaggi. Dana White released a total of 24 seconds from 60 minutes of sparring, showing the UFC champion getting the better of the retired boxer.
Malignaggi himself is sticking to his story of him clearly winning the earlier rounds, while the more in-shape McGregor won rounds 11 and 12. He says that’s where they got and edited the footage of Conor landing well, and the unedited video would tell a completely different story.
For what it’s worth, Malignaggi has also said the same about the knockdown/pushdown photo, but releasing the clip of the specific incident has not put a rest to the topic. In fact, this has only sparked more discussion — and a lot of further speculation — from many.
White has since responded, saying nothing was edited and they wouldn’t need to do so, as it was a complete blowout.
“What am I, Steven Spielberg? C’mon! It’s footage of the actual sparring. I was there for all 12 rounds” White said about the short clips. “I felt sorry for the guy. It was a one-way beating. A lot of people said Conor couldn’t box. Paulie was obviously lying about everything that he said about the sparring match, so I released it.
“It was very one-sided. It was an absolute beating. Guess what, I think it was the right thing for Paulie Malignaggi to definitely leave. For his health’s sake!” White said with a laugh.
The UFC president then said that they can’t release the complete footage.
“I got no problem releasing the full tape. The problem is, Conor doesn’t want Mayweather to see everything that he’s doing, everything he is working on.”
Malignaggi has his side, while White claims that it was an absolute, one-way beating. It’s conceivable that each of them of course have their own agendas and images they’d like to protect, so these statements are understandable and to be taken with a grain of salt.
To me, the more revealing things are statements from those who don’t have anything to gain from it all. While White says it was “very one sided,” that’s not exactly what two others who were also there have said.
Tiernan Bradley, who is a sparring partner of McGregor, recently penned a piece specifically to defend his fellow Irishman against Malignaggi’s claims. Interestingly enough, he tried to counter a lot of what Malignaggi claimed, but still said something contrasting to what White is now saying.
Bradley said he thought McGregor got the better of the session, but “it wasn’t a one-sided spar either way.”
Joe Cortez, who like Bradley, is also on McGregor’s payroll, complimented Conor for how he performed against Malignaggi. He said “he handled himself pretty good” and “that guy can pop.”
But when the veteran referee was asked specifically if it was Conor roughing Paulie up and winning most of the exchanges, Cortez said “they were both roughing each other up.”
So it’s a bit telling, when White says it was completely one-sided and that Malignaggi was “obviously lying about everything,” but even people from within McGregor’s camp — who were trying to praise or defend him — wouldn’t even go to those lengths.
Was it one sided? Was it back and forth? Countless fans will probably blindly believe just one side, but like that seemingly endless punch vs push debate, the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle, muddied with everyone’s agendas.
Obviously, we will only know the full story if or when they release the complete videos of the two sessions. So for now, the only things we can safely conclude are that people have egos to protect or build up, and promoters will definitely promote.