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02nd Aug 2017

Surprise, surprise… Conor McGregor is “not very likeable” in sparring

Why change a winning formula?

Ben Kiely

While sparring with Conor McGregor may be an educational experience, it certainly doesn’t sound like a pleasant one.

It’s unsurprising that swinging gloves with a character as competitive as Conor McGregor isn’t a bed of roses. The man’s an animal inside the cage and an animal inside the gym. So if you start throwing fists at him, he’s going to have an animalistic reaction.

If you throw him into a ring with another extremely competitive shit-talker, you’re going to need someone officiating it. That’s why Hall of Fame boxing referee Joe Cortez was forced to step in while McGregor sparred with Paulie Malignaggi.

Although we can only speculate, it could easily be part of the reason why the two-time world champion emerged with a nasty shiner after duking it out with McGregor.

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Malignaggi confirmed to The Dan Patrick Show that his eight rounds of sparring with the UFC superstar got ‘a little rough’, ‘a little tense’ and ‘very dirty’. According to the American, McGregor isn’t likeable inside the ring, but then again, he doesn’t consider himself anyone’s pal once he laces up those gloves either.

“He brings his game face into sparring. He’s not very likeable, but I’ve got to admit I’m not very likeable either a lot of times in there.

“Also there had been words in the media about what we had said about each other before we even came to camp. I’m sure it all came to a head in sparring and I’m sure it will come to a head again during sparring. I’m not here to be friends with anybody and I’ve certainly seen the way with sparring partners, he’s definitely not here to be friends with any of his sparring partners.” 

That last line is interesting, and if you’re getting a sense of deja vu it’s because we’ve heard something similar from SBG head coach John Kavanagh.

Another time McGregor proved a lot of doubters wrong was when he edged that majority decision over Nate Diaz in their welterweight do-over at UFC 202.

Kavanagh revealed an interesting tidbit about McGregor’s preparations for the rematch during an appearance on Mentality of Combat Sportwith David Mullins and Robin Black.

“One of the guys that we brought in as a sparring partner, they didn’t hang out together, they didn’t become friends, they didn’t chat to each other. And when they would go into the gym, they would get changed in a different room and they wouldn’t talk to each other until they were actually sparring. And then, as sort of a stroke of luck, this particular guy we got, he actually liked to do some shit-talking.”

Malignaggi’s and Cortez’s comments suggest he’s keeping this trend going for the money fight to trump all money fights.