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The fight between Conor McGregor and Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone ended in just 40 seconds but the battle between commentators who worked the event has continued into the following week.
It all started when ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith blasted Cerrone while saying he was “quite disgusted” with his performance in the fight. Days later, UFC color commentator Joe Rogan responded with his own criticism aimed at Smith after he seemingly disrespected a legend of the sport in Cerrone.
“There’s no positive in downplaying the career of Donald Cerrone and what he can do as a fighter,” Rogan said on his podcast. “What that showed to me is how phenomenal Conor performed.
“That’s a bad look for everybody. It’s a bad look for ESPN, it’s a bad look for him, it’s a bad look for the sport. There’s other people that can do this. We have plenty of people out there who understand the sport. There’s plenty of them. But the thing about him is he’s really popular. [He got a contract extension] because his personality is so fun. He’s a fun guy to watch and people love sh*t talking and they love people arguing about sh*t and one person is better at arguing. Stephen A. Smith is really good at that stuff. But it’s not the place for MMA. It’s just not the place. It’s not the same thing.”
On Saturday, Smith filmed a nearly four-minute video firing back at Rogan, although he never quite addressed the issues that the 52-year-old comedian raised during his podcast.
You’re wrong on this one, @joerogan. pic.twitter.com/eU140zXlcW
— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) January 26, 2020
“I certainly don’t claim to be the aficionado you are or anybody else covering the sport but excuse me, I have been a reporter for 25 years. I have covered sports on a variety of competitive levels, regardless of what the sport is, that includes boxing and the UFC,” Smith said. “And I don’t give a damn if I did it.
“It don’t take much to look at three shoulder shots to the nose that Conor McGregor gave “Cowboy” Cerrone, watching him fold inside 20 seconds, knowing that he only got one strike off — oh by the way that was blocked by Conor — it doesn’t take much to look at the fight and say excuse me, I didn’t see enough to convince me that Conor in a rematch with [Khabib] Nurmagomedov, that wouldn’t cut it or a fight against Masvidal, that wouldn’t cut it.”
Smith finished his diatribe by offering to sit down and have a discussion with Rogan about their issues if he ever wanted to continue the conversation.
“I don’t think disagreeing with that position warrants the kind of criticism that came in my direction. Having said that, you’re entitled. You have that right just like I have my right to respond as I’m doing right now,” Smith said.
“But anytime you want to talk to me about this fight or you want to talk to me about my credentials to discuss something in the world of sports, name the time and place, Joe Rogan, and I’ll show up. It’s not a problem.”
Following Smith’s response to Rogan, McGregor decided to address the situation including the initial comments from the “First Take” co-host where he essentially called Cerrone a quitter while stating “15 seconds in, ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone was done … it look like he gave up,” during the UFC 246 broadcast.
“The call you discuss here is A+. I didn’t show enough. I’m not paid by the hour though,” McGregor wrote in response to Smith. “Joe’s comments however, come from you saying the opposition fighter quit. Broken nose/orbital bone say different. Fighting is vicious. Those who make the walk deserve full respect! Apologize.”
The call you discuss here is A+. I didn’t show enough. I’m not paid by the hour though. Joe’s comments however, come from you saying the opposition fighter quit. Broken nose/orbital bone say different. Fighting is vicious. Those who make the walk deserve full respect!
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) January 26, 2020
Judging by these latest responses, Smith hasn’t heard the last of the criticism he’ll receive but it remains to be seen if he’ll take aim at McGregor like he did Rogan.
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