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Former two-weight world champion boxer Paulie Malignaggi has described Conor McGregor as “one of the biggest dirtbags I’ve ever met in my life” and that he was “very hittable” after the fifth round of one of their sparring sessions.
He told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour (MMA Junkie’s Simon Samano): “This guy is one of the biggest dirtbags I’ve ever met in my life—bar none. I was amazed at what a dirtbag this person is. I don’t care if we never speak again. My life is fine if I never see Conor McGregor again.”
Malignaggi was brought in as a sparring partner for The Notorious ahead of his clash with Floyd Mayweather Jr., but he left the camp just two weeks in after pictures from one of their sessions were leaked to social media.
The full interview with Helwani can be seen here (warning, contains NSFW language):
Malignaggi pulled no punches during the conversation, per SevereMMA’s Sean Sheehan:
“It’s all about status with him, he’s a scumbag” – Paulie Malignaggi on McGregor on #TheMMAHour with @arielhelwani
Per Peter Carroll of MMA Fighting, Malignaggi opened up on his decision to part with McGregor after asking him to ensure no more pictures leaked from their private sessions:
“I told Conor that it becomes very hard for me to not disclose the NDA that I have when you’re putting up pictures of me.
“I am not one of the other sparring partners. Nobody knows who the other sparring partners are. Everyone knows who I am. When you put up a picture of me in sparring, the media rush comes to me and I have to answer questions that I don’t want to deal with.
“I have to try [to] make you look good. I want you to look good. I want to say things that make you look good. I want to promote you and help you out, but not at my expense.”
The 36-year-old was less than pleased with McGregor’s reaction to his request, however, and branded him a “d–khead” as a result. He continued:
“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 gotPunk’d. I thought it was a joke. I thought there was no way this guy is that much of an assh–e.”
MMA Fighting’s Danny Segura believes the rivalry that has since emerged between the pair would make a fight between them an even more entertaining spectacle than his clash with Mayweather:
At this point, I rather see McGregor-Malignaggi over McGregor-Mayweather. Beef is definitely more genuine. #TheMMAHour
Despite his decision to leave, the boxer insisted he had arrived at McGregor’s camp with the best intentions, per MMAFighting.com:
.@paulmalignaggi on sparring #ConorMcGregor, knew it would be rough but didn’t expect some other issues. #TheMMAHour https://t.co/4mMA2MoWKA
Malignaggi also discussed his second session with the Irishman, in which he was given 24 hours notice that he was expected to go a full 12 rounds—an unusual request of a sparring partner as they typically rotate to stay fresh when a fighter goes the distance in training, thereby making it more of a challenge.
The American was also surprised to see an entourage there to witness the session, which included UFC President Dana White and former CEO Lorenzo Fertitta, given they were typically “so private I couldn’t even bring in a trainer for my corner,” while phones had to be left in a box to prevent pictures and videos being captured.
Malignaggi believes McGregor brought them to witness what he hoped would be a knockout victory during the session.
The 29-year-old was able to get off to a bright start: “He hung tough the first five rounds. He came out sharper, with more of a purpose. He hung tough for the first rounds, he even landed a couple of good shots, but I was starting to take over.”
The 36-8 retiree explained how he got the better of McGregor: “My work was more consistent. My style was more consistent. My counter punching was sharper. My jab was sharper. There was just more consistency on my part.”
He added: “From about six rounds on, he became very hittable. So much more hittable that I was putting more weight on my shots and sitting down more on my shots, and of course, the body shots started to affect him more and more.”
Despite the pair trash-talking throughout the session, Malignaggi felt they had “buried the hatchet” afterwards and believed there was a mutual respect between the two prior to their discussion about the photos.
It may come as an encouraging sign for McGregor that he was able to cause Malignaggi problems early on, though it is claimed the boxer’s superior technique shone through.
That is likely to be even more pronounced against Money, but it will nevertheless make for a much more thrilling contest if McGregor is able to produce some strong rounds.