Conor McGregor has asked for an apology from ESPN journalist Stephen A. Smith on Twitter after the latter criticised Donald Cerrone's performance at UFC 246.
McGregor dominated Cerrone on his return to the Octagon, winning in 40 seconds. Following the fight, Smith slammed Cowboy's performance, which prompted a reaction from UFC analyst Joe Rogan, who hit back at the ESPN broadcaster on his podcast for what he perceived to be a harsh take.
In response, Smith posted a clip on Twitter defending his position, tagging in Rogan. McGregor provided his thoughts on the matter in response:
Conor McGregor @TheNotoriousMMA
@stephenasmith @SandhuMMA @joerogan 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! Apologise.
Smith replied, saying he has "much respect" for McGregor, although he didn't back down from his standpoint:
"Cowboy Cerrone is a perennial top-10 fighter. Much respect to him for the lengthy career he has had. Wishing him nothing but the best. But I don't think it's unfair to...say that more than 40-seconds was expected from as tough of an SOB as he is.
"Nor do I think it's wrong to assume that there's no way [that a] 40-second fight would take place w/ you vs [Khabib Nurmagomedov] or [Jorge] Masvidal."
Smith continued, saying he has "tremendous respect" for Rogan, although he added "I don't think Rogan is right to question my knowledge about a fight just because I wasn't satisfied with what I saw."
Speaking on the Joe Rogan Experience MMA Show, Rogan was critical of the choice to include Smith on ESPN's broadcast team: "If either you or I was talking about cricket, and we were on TV doing commentary on cricket, we would look out of place."
Following the back and forth between Smith and Rogan, Chamatkar Sandhu of Pro Fight League joked he would like to see the former be a guest on the latter's podcast:
Smith will no doubt be asked for his opinions on the matter again on ESPN's First Take. With McGregor putting himself in the middle of this spat between two of the biggest broadcasters in sport, it's likely the debate around the issue will intensify.
The Irishman will be delighted with his performance nonetheless, as he proved he's still one of the most dangerous competitors in the UFC. As his tweet noted, McGregor left Cerrone with significant injuries after their fight, with the speed and variety of his attacks too much for his opponent.