Paulie Malignaggi insists he joined Conor McGregor’s training camp simply to help prepare him for his boxing match with Floyd Mayweather, and the only reason things went south is because of how he was mistreated.

In an extensive interview on “The MMA Hour,” Malignaggi didn’t hold back on everything that bothered him about his McGregor camp experience – ranging from blatant disrespect to his portrayal on social media.

“It’s something that I didn’t really ask for,” Malignaggi said. “I showed up with the best intentions in camp. At a certain point you start to realize your being used as a pawn where somebody is trying to get ahead at your expense and not through your help. My intention was to try to get Conor ahead through my help in camp. … I realized pretty early it was always going to be at my expense.”

McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) and Mayweather (49-0 boxing) face off on Aug. 26 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas in a pay-per-view event expected to be the most lucrative prize fight of all time. Malignaggi’s time with the UFC lightweight champion included two sparring sessions.

Malignaggi said things didn’t seem right from the moment landed in Las Vegas. He arrived on July 19 and was told by McGregor’s people, who picked him up from the airport, that he’d be sparring eight rounds the next day, which was odd to Malignaggi considering he’d just taken a cross-country flight. The condition and location of the house Malignaggi would be staying in didn’t help matters, either.

“It’s in a dilapidated neighborhood. It’s a rundown house,” Malignaggi said. “I mean, yeah, it works. But it’s not really what you expect. … It reminded me of some kind of crack house that had been barely renovated a little bit.”

Malignaggi first sparred with McGregor on July 20, the time when McGregor posted a photo of himself showboating with his hands behind his back. Of that session, Malignaggi said McGregor got the better of him a little bit, chalking it up to bad conditioning. Tactically, though, Malignaggi said McGregor needed more work to sharpen his intelligence.

The next day, McGregor shared the showboating photo on social media.

“I was a little ticked off, but it wasn’t really like offensive,” Malignaggi said. “I had done that stuff to him, too.”

Malignaggi said he was scheduled to spar with McGregor two days later on July 22 but was skipped at the last minute for reasons that weren’t explained. Malignaggi flew back to New York two days later but not without having a bad feeling about what the rest of his time in camp would be like.

“They just didn’t rub me the right away,” Malignaggi said. “It wasn’t like I was mad, but I said, ‘There’s something fishy about these people.’ They put me in some kind of crack house, they had me spar eight rounds after I just got off of a plane the day after, he put up this picture. I wasn’t mad, but I was starting to become guarded.”

Malignaggi spent the week conditioning and had one sparring session back home before he flew back to Las Vegas. Again he was told he’d be sparring with McGregor the next day – this time for 12 rounds (the session that referee Joe Cortez said “got out of control”). When Malignaggi showed up to the gym that night, he was stunned to see UFC President Dana White and other dignitaries on hand to watch.

“I was angry, but I knew I came ready this time,” Malignaggi said.

The way Malignaggi described it, McGregor wanted Cortez to treat the session like a fight – and that included a staredown with instructions, which Malignaggi said proved “it’s all about his ego.” Malignaggi said McGregor improved from his first session and hung tough through the first five rounds but started to fade and became more hittable after that. That prompted Malignaggi to start talking trash.

“This is the (expletive) you brought me here?” he recalled asking White.

It was during this session, Malignaggi said, that McGregor pushed him down to the ground, a moment caught by one of McGregor’s photographer’s and shared on social media to make him look good at Malignaggi’s expense.

That was the final straw for Malignaggi, who decided then he would leave camp.

“This guy is one of the biggest dirtbags I’ve ever met in my life – bar none,” he said. “I was amazed at what a dirtbag this person is. I don’t care if we never speak again. My life is fine if I never see Conor McGregor again. …

“I was dumbfounded by the way things were. It’s just about status with him. It makes me doubt if he ever really went through a tough time in his life like they try to say he did. If somebody went through that tough a time in life just a few years ago, they wouldn’t treat people who were not as fortunate as him that bad.”

Malignaggi said the bad treatment wasn’t only at him. He said McGregor and his team have fostered a “false sense of security” throughout camp by constantly changing sparring times with partners so they’re not at their best.

Why would McGregor do this?

“Because he’s a (expletive). He doesn’t like that. He doesn’t want to be put in those positions. He wants to be the front runner,” Malignaggi said. “He wants to be the guy who always has the advantage, because when he has an advantage he’s a big man. When he gets tired, he wants out of a fight.”

At this point, Malignaggi is simply glad the experience is over.

“People are going to have their own speculation about how this happened,” he said. “I have my own life. I don’t need this. I don’t need to be part of this. I didn’t ask for this. I went into it with the best intentions. Yeah, I knew we’d be competing, and it would be at a high level. But I was also excited about that. I was excited to make new friends. I was excited to be a part of something.

“I always get excited about new adventures, because that’s the kind of person I am. It was definitely an experience; it just wasn’t the experience I thought.”

For more on “The Money Fight: Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor,” check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.


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