On Friday evening, UFC president Dana White released 22 seconds of the controversial sparring session between Conor McGregor and former two-division world champion Paulie Malignaggi. The footage showed the UFC lightweight champion knocking down Malignaggi.
Episode 3 of "All Access" to hype the Aug. 26 showdown between McGregor and Floyd Mayweather aired on Showtime, and to the surprise of many, no footage was shown of the much-hyped session.
White spoke to the media following the his show, "Tuesday Night Contender Series" and said UFC sent the premium cable channel footage of McGregor and the Showtime boxing analyst sparring. White claims Showtime refused to use it.
“The last thing I want to do is get in a beef with Showtime, but we gave them a ton of the footage of the (Malignaggi vs. McGregor) sparring, and they denied it because they didn’t want to make Paulie look bad,” White said. “They had a ton of the sparring footage, and they wanted to use zero (of it).”
The Executive Vice President and General Manager of Showtime Sports reached out to Sporting News to clarify what happened. Espinoza said White wasn't involved with distribution of the sparring session video which was sent to the premium cable channel by McGregor's team and the reason no video wasn't used had nothing to do with protecting Malignaggi.
"Dana’s misinformed here because we were dealing directly with Conor’s team on this," Espinoza told Sporting News. "We did not receive as Dana said, a ton of footage. We received a few short clips. Roughly a minute total which were provided by the Conor camp. We reviewed them and were very interested in using them and including them in “All Access”.
"But it was a series of sort of spliced-together McGregor highlights, eight or nine seconds each. We didn’t want to use the whole thing. It was sort of repetitive. We were told if we didn’t use the whole segment as they edited it then we couldn’t use it at all. So in the end, Conor’s camp withheld permission for us to use it. Otherwise we definitely wanted to use it. There was no intent to protect Paulie. We just wanted to cut some of the clips because it was pretty redundant, repetitive stuff."
McGregor brought Malignaggi in to help him prepare for the Mayweather fight. They sparred eight rounds in July and then went another 12 rounds at the beginning of August. He abruptly left the camp after two photos surfaced of the last session including one of Malignaggi on the canvas with McGregor standing over him.
Malignaggi has denied the claim. He insists it was a push down and won 10 of 12 rounds in the session.
While Malignaggi maintains what White did was classless, the UFC president harbors no ill will towards Malignaggi. He feels the boxing champion made the right move in leaving McGregor's camp, and went as far to say McGregor battered Malignaggi for all 12 rounds.
“As far as his health goes, he made the right decision to leave that camp,” White said. "I think he made the decision for his health, and I think it was the right decision. And I’m not talking (expletive). What do I care? It makes no difference in my life whatsoever.
“This was a deal between Conor and this boxer and whatever. But I’m just telling you he made the right decision for his health, because it was a 12-round straight ass-whooping. It was as bad an ass-whooping as I’ve ever seen."
Steven Muehlhausen is an MMA and boxing writer and contributor for Sporting News. You can listen to his podcast, "The Fight Junkies" here . You can email him at email@example.com and can find him on Twitter @SMuehlhausenMMA .