Malignaggi had been McGregor's sparring partner as the reigning UFC lightweight champion prepares to face Floyd Mayweather Jr. on Aug. 26 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The Italian pugilist walked away from the arrangement, but he told TMZ Sports he knows he could beat McGregor: "He knows it [that I could beat him]. More importantly than me knowing it, he knows it. That's the best part."
Malignaggi also said McGregor knew the beatings in their sparring sessions would only get worse.
This isn't the first time Malignaggi has fired a verbal volley or two McGregor's way. He also told Ariel Helwani of The MMA Hour (h/t Martin Domin of the Daily Mirror) how he got the better of the UFC star in the pair's second and final sparring session: "He pushed me down during one of his worst rounds because he needed a break. I said 'there's no breaks here' and started hitting him to the body, and he began to whimper."
Malignaggi also referred to McGregor as a "scumbag," during the same interview.
The words are inflammatory as well as a direct challenge to McGregor. Yet whether Malignaggi would get his wish of an actual bout against the Irishman is tough to call.
Malignaggi is no longer the draw he was, while McGregor's future in the boxing ring will likely be determined by how he fares against Mayweather at the end of the month.