Ariel Helwani has always had pretty good access to the stars of MMA.
As one of the foremost journalistic presences in the sport, it's no wonder Conor McGregor would handpick him to participate in his biggest moments—even in the face of Helwani being on the outs with the UFC since 2016.
Helwani has walked the streets of Dublin with McGregor before he was a superstar, spent an evening on stage with McGregor for a pay-per-view interview this January and sat on the edge of a McGregor Sports & Entertainment boxing ring discussing the definitive clip of Malignaggigate.
OK. Rethink the name maybe. But the point remains the same.
After considerable chirping back and forth between them, Paulie Malignaggi, a retired boxer and commentator for Showtime boxing, went to Las Vegas to do some sparring with McGregor, who is preparing for his August 26 bout against Floyd Mayweather Jr.
After only a couple of days, pictures emerged on social media of Malignaggi, winded and badly wearing it. Not long after, there was another of him on the canvas while McGregor stood proudly in the center of the ring.
Conor McGregor @TheNotoriousMMA
They say I've got no hands. https://t.co/FJfvj5qjKi2017-7-21 09:47:15
UFC Insiders @UFCInsiders
Conor McGregor dropped Paulie Malignaggi in sparring? https://t.co/UXcxzQYhX92017-8-3 22:59:32
Malignaggi, fiercely proud and not much of a McGregor fan to begin with, left the camp as quickly as he'd arrived and went on an all-out media blitz to dress down everything from McGregor's punching power to his real estate choices.
He insisted that McGregor had pushed him and the whole thing was a conspiracy set up by McGregor's people and the UFC. Video of the incident, which UFC President Dana White "leaked" on Friday, seemed to pretty convincingly show McGregor pawing at Malignaggi with a lead right hand then landing a left, putting the "Magic Man" on his behind in the process.
In any event, it was easily the most ink Malignaggi has gotten in years and even has people wondering if the whole thing might be a hustle to set up a legitimate fight with McGregor down the line.
And once again it's Helwani with the access—in a clip released Saturday on the MMA Fighting Twitter account, he shows McGregor the video White leaked and gets his thoughts on the whole feud.
Check out the Malignaggi material in the tweet below:
Conor McGregor discusses beef with Malignaggi, reacts to Dana White releasing the 'knockdown' video. Full interview: https://t.co/xylohM8vT0 https://t.co/4KZdvpWpmB2017-8-12 22:14:36
Or watch the entire, 23-minute interview with McGregor below:
So what do you think? Punch or push? Have your say in the comments below!