Ever since the McGregor camp released the photo of what appeared to be Paulie Malignaggi being knocked down by the UFC Lightweight Champion during a sparring session, the retired boxer has campaigned against Conor McGregor and his camp.
The retired boxer has now stepped up to offer what is his version of the second sparring session with the UFC Lightweight Champion. The problems began in Maliganggi’s mind when he stepped off the plane and met with members of McGregor’s camp for the first time.
“I land in Vegas and they tell me, ‘you’re going 12 (rounds) tomorrow’,” Maliganggi said on The MMA Hour. “Now, for people who aren’t familiar with a training camp, no one is ever expected to do 12 straight (rounds). The fighter in camp does 12 straight, but when the fighter in camp does 12 straight, he alternates (sparring partners). Doing it like that you’re gaining two things; you have the sparring partners all at their best and, like I said, (the fighter in camp) gets uncomfortable – you have to be comfortable getting uncomfortable at times. By the time you get to the third (sparring partner), you’re tiring, you’re uncomfortable. And the (sparring partner) is fresh, he’s looking to beat the crap out of you, you know?”
After a troubling sparring session with McGregor the first time around, the retired boxer returned to the gym the next day to spar with the MMA fighter again.
It was the arrival of some dignitaries and other people that caused Malignaggi to start questioning some things.
“I get to the gym the next day and he has all kinds of dignitaries there,” Malignaggi said. “He’s got Lorenzo Fertitta there, he’s got Dana White there, he’s got his agent there (Audie Attar), he’s got a couple of other people I don’t know there. Another thing checked off in my mind because usually sparring is so private I couldn’t even bring in a trainer for my corner. I’d just have his sparring partners work my corner. It was so private that you had to leave your phone in a box so nobody could sneak pictures or record. It was so tight, yet he had some dignitaries come in on this day. Again, I was thinking to myself, this guy is going to try and stop me tonight. He’s banking on catching a guy that could barely go eight, and had a tough time doing the eight the first time. He’s brought in all these dignitaries because they can speak about how great he looks at my expense. I was angry, but I knew that I came ready this time.”
There was some trash talking between Malignaggi and McGregor, which also spilled over to the UFC President in Dana White.
“[McGregor] stopped talking because he wanted to save as much energy as he could,” he said. “He stopped throwing as many punches. He caught some nice ones for the first five rounds. The nice ones he caught were the whole time when I was talking. After seven (rounds), which was one of his worst rounds, he sits there and he tells me, ‘7-0 to me’. I remember walking back to my corner and yelling back at him, I said, ‘whatever school you went to they didn’t teach you how to count!’ I was feeling so good that I start yelling at Dana White ringside. I started saying, This is the bitch you brought me here?’ I said, ‘24 hours ago I was on a flight’. Then I lied a bit, I said, ‘Last week I didn’t do anything’ — I did workout that week, but of course I wanted to pump myself up. I knew that Conor heard me across the ring. Dana didn’t acknowledge it with any kind of emotion, he didn’t say anything, but he was looking at me when I was saying it.”
Then the moment came where the infamous photograph was publicized and that lit the fuse to Malignaggi leaving McGregor’s camp.
Despite McGregor saying Maliganni got whooped during their sparring sessions, the retired boxer maintains he was pushed down and never knocked down.
“The funny thing about the push down was this — it was during one of his worst moments,” Malignaggi said. “He pushed me down on the floor to try and catch a break and the instant I went down I got back up. I remember when I was down I continued to trash talk. I said, ‘Buddy, you need a break?’ because Cortez had to wipe off my gloves. I started to take it to him right after that. I told him, ‘you don’t get no breaks here’, and I started to hit him with more body shots. I said, ‘take those, they don’t feel good’ and I could hear him whimper off the body shots, too.”
Things didn’t get any better between the two before Malignaggi left the camp, as he and McGregor had a brief face to face in the locker room.
“He looks at me, and I’m expecting, ‘you’re right, Paulie – you got it, let’s just keep this good work going.’ Instead, he looks at me and he gives me this smirk, laughs at me and he starts walking away from me. He gives me his back, he’s walking away towards the showers and he’s like, ‘Ha ha, I don’t know Paulie. We got some good ones in those last two rounds. I don’t know about that.’ At this stage, I’m waiting for Ashton Kutcher to walk into the dressing rooms and tell me I got Punk’d. I thought it was a joke. I thought there was no way this guy is that much of an a**hole,” says Malignaggi.
Conor McGregor faces Floyd Mayweather on Saturday, August 26 and maybe a battle with the retired Malignaggi is going to be taking place after that.