Paulie Malignaggi joined NewsTalk’s Off The Ball last night to give Irish MMA fans some further insight into his recent sparring session with Conor McGregor and touched on the possibility of some ‘rule-bending’ in his game plan.
We are now just 25 days out from the biggest night in combat sports history, a night that promises to deliver a spectacle perhaps unlike anything we have ever seen before. Floyd Mayweather will attempt to close out his perfect career with a 50th victory against a man, in Conor McGregor, who has never once laced up gloves for a professional boxing bout.
We all know the story at this stage, but as we’re now merely weeks away, speculation about the approach that the rookie McGregor will take has been dominating the combat sports world. As a mixed martial artist, the questions he can ask of Floyd come fight night may well prove to be the difference between him and the boxer’s 49 previous opponents.
Or it may well be his ultimate downfall.
For now, there is literally no way for us to be certain but recently one of McGregor’s sparring partners, the two-time world champion Paulie Malignaggi, spoke to Off The Ball about the Irishman’s unknown factor and the role it may play, but with so little to base our opinions on, it can be viewed as nothing more than hopeful speculation.
In the same interview, Malignaggi did touch on the heavily-discussed subject that is the possibility that Conor may bend the rules of the more ‘limited’ form of fighting – as he sees it – and attempt to use the advantages his training as a mixed martial artist has given him to secure the win.
It all seems good on paper but in his recent interview on the Irish sports show, Paulie gave an insight into the line that McGregor needs to tread carefully upon in order to be successful in any way, shape or form.
“One thing that Conor likes to do. He’s a mixed martial artist so the inside scrapping and stuff like that, there are ways to be dirty inside boxing rules, so to speak. There are things that can disrupt a fighter more so than the trash-talk. Me and Conor’s sparring session was a very physical one because some of those things on the inside were very physical and led to some trash-talking.
“I think people get very creative with their imagination and start to believe what they want to believe, instead of what’s really going on. There was no feigning of kicks.
“He’s got little things that he does in there [the clinch]. Whether he is able to get away with those things, that depends on the referee on fight-night. He knows how to bend the rules a little bit, as do all boxers out there. He needs to bend the rules not so forwardly or sloppily. He has to understand that. You can probably do some things in sparring that you will not be able to do on fight-night, so we’ll see.”
The clinch obviously plays a much greater role in the sport of MMA than it does in boxing, and though McGregor’s chances in this contest are slim at best, he will know that in order to achieve the impossible he will have to dig deep into his arsenal of tricks and hope that it will be enough to catch the ice-cold tactician that is Floyd Mayweather off guard.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena