Now that the fight between Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather is all over, it seems referee Joe Cortez can speak about some of the things that happened during McGregor’s training camp. The Hall of Fame referee was brought in McGregor’s camp to ref sparring sessions and give the current UFC lightweight champion a better understanding of what would and wouldn’t be allowed in the ring on fight night.
Perhaps the biggest hype leading up to the fight was from within McGregor’s training camp as he and former two-division boxing champion Paulie Malignaggi had a falling out after Malignaggi felt “exploited” with some photos released from their sparring. One photo, in particular, was of Malignaggi getting up off his back from the canvas where it appeared McGregor knocked the retired pro boxer down. Malignaggi claimed it was a pushdown and a video clip released had people debating on whether it was a knockdown or a pushdown.
Cortez recently commented on the incident on The MMA Hour. However, Cortez walked straight down the middle to both sides and didn’t give any official ruling on the matter.
“Now that I can talk about it, to me it was like nothing even happened,” Cortez said (transcribed by Peter Carroll for MMA Fighting). It was just a freaky thing. Was it a knockdown? I don’t know. Was it a slip? I don’t know. It was just a sparring session.”
Given that the incident got so much attention building into the richest fight in the history of combat sports, Cortez didn’t make much of it from what he had to say.
“I wasn’t about to make any ruling on it because sparring is sparring,” said Cortez.
“You can get pushed, you can slip or whatever, and I wasn’t about to call anything either way, it was just a freak thing that happened.
“I wasn’t even considering giving it a count. To me it was just an ordinary thing. It could’ve been a push, it could’ve been a slip. It was a sparring session, there was nothing I was considering about anything, it was just a little thing that happened.
“I can’t say it was a push, I can’t say it was a slip – it was just something freaky that happened in there. During the clinch you could pull back and he could’ve went this way or that way.”
So, was it a pushdown or a knockdown? The debate continues in the comment section!
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 8/31/2017.