SHOWTIME executive Stephen Espinoza took a subtle dig at Conor McGregor’s professionalism after he branded him a ‘f**king weasel’ at yesterday’s press conference.
The UFC’s lightweight champion Conor McGregor is a man known for his sharp tongue and the manner in which he uses it to dismantle whoever it is that he has been scheduled to take on inside the octagon (and now the boxing ring) but yesterday, at his Toronto meeting with Floyd Mayweather, Conor took aim at SHOWTIME’s Stephen Espinoza after his mic was cut at the LA presser the day before.
Los Angeles’ Staples Center was the venue chosen to host the first meeting between the Irishman and the unbeaten Floyd Mayweather and though fans were treated to an exhilarating spectacle for the most part that was packed full of quotable lines and palpable tension, the fact that McGregor’s mic was inexplicably cut off midway through caused anger from those who had been waiting for him to unload his patented trash-talk upon his latest opponent.
Many had pointed to SHOWTIME as the ones responsible for the odd occurrence and though they issued a statement denying everything, the people – for the most part – remained unconvinced.
McGregor himself made a point of directly calling out Espinoza during yesterday’s event, calling him a ‘f***ing weasel’ in full view of Mayweather, the crowd and everyone watching at home and now, the man who the comments were directed at has made a response.
Speaking to MMAFighting, Espinoza took a subtle dig at the ‘Notorious One’ and voiced his surprise at the rather vocal callout.
“I’m not sure whether it’s part of the show. I’m not sure how much is a put on. It seemed more than that. It certainly wasn’t a wink and a nod. And it wasn’t backstage saying, ‘Hey, I’m doing it for the good of the show.’ The reality is you see what some athletes — whether combat sports or otherwise — the need to invent enemies and invent opponents to motivate.”
“He’s obviously got that in Floyd. If this is part of his process of imagining the world against him and motivating himself, then that’s his his process.”
“I’m a big boy. It’s certainly not somebody that has come after me as a network. It did take me a little bit by surprise, but it’s part of the entertainment value of the McGregor business.”
“I don’t think so. He’s a grown adult, I’m a grown adult. If that’s the way he wants to conduct himself, we as the network or me personally are not gonna change it. It’s one of the things that you appreciate Floyd for. Floyd certainly has his flaws like we all do, but there’s always been a sense of professionalism in everything he’s done. That isn’t always the case with some of his opponents.”
“I’d like to sleep on it, but it took me by surprise. At the end of the day, I’m a big boy and I still got two more opportunities to respond if I need to.”
It was a veiled attack but an attack nonetheless and with two dates left on this week’s press tour, this may not be the last we hear of this newly-formed beef between Conor McGregor and the SHOWTIME team.
New York’s Barclay’s Centre is the venue for tonight’s clash and given the city’s strong Irish presence, expect some serious fireworks when things get underway.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena