If Conor McGregor wants his next fight to be in boxing, then Paulie Malignaggi wants to be his next opponent. Paulie wants to come out of retirement and settle his beef with the Mac Man and show the world he can kick Conor’s a*$. The question now is this. Will Conor go back to the UFC for a trilogy fight with Nate Diaz, or try to make more money fighting Paulie, in a sport he obviously can’t dominate? McGregor really had nothing to lose fighting, who some consider the greatest pound for pound fighter of all time, Floyd “Money” Mayweather. Now, if he fights Malignaggi, who was a good fighter but not on Floyd’s level and loses, Conor’s image could take a big hit.
Just before the August 26th fight out in Vegas, Paulie confronted a heavily guarded McGregor, just off the strip. The encounter was brief, but Malignaggi basically called McGregor a punk and told him he would fight him anytime. Conor talked the usual smack, peppered with a variety of insults, then walked away.
The initial beef between the two fighters started when Conor released photos showing he knocked out Paulie. This enraged the New York fighter, who claimed it was nothing more than a shove down. He totally denies he was ever knocked out. Paulie also claims that the short video that was released to the public was heavily edited and challenged the UFC to releae all 12 rounds. He went on to tell reporters, “A fighter is a fighter when faced with adversity,” Malignaggi said. “Anytime somebody gets Conor McGregor to that point of adversity in MMA or boxing, he punks out. You can’t teach that. Either you have balls or you don’t.” Paulie thinks he could destroy Conor if given the proper time to train.
Dana White later came forward and took Conor’s side. White said Conor owned Paulie all 12 rounds and got his a*$ seriously whooped. Now it looks like Paulie wants a real boxing match in front of the entire world. If it happens, many think it will go down in New York City at the Barclay’s Center. It most definitely would be Paulie’s biggest payday ever. He could make upwards of $10 million for the bout, while Conor might pull down $30 million plus. That would be less than he made for the Floyd bout, but way more than his UFC paychecks.
There is also the very real uncertainty if the UFC will ever want their star fighter to box again. The UFC has lost several high profile fighters in the last couple years to PEDs. The one bankable star that has not let the organization down is Conor McGregor. Other superstars like Jon Jones are routinely involved with legal issues and drug suspensions. Brock Lesnar is one of the few fighters that can draw the fans in like Conor, but he has retired after testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. Other big name fighters like Cain Velasquez have been hit by long injury layoffs. This has left the UFC with fewer mega shows and they need Conor to sell PPV buys.
A trilogy fight with Nate Diaz could do between 1 million and 1.5 million PPV buys. So in all likelihood, the UFC will want Conor to stick to the UFC. They may even redo his contract to entice the irish fighter to fight more often and only MMA. So the reality is if Paulie wants to fight Conor, he better learn some MMA skills fast because Conor will probably be strictly fighting for now on in the UFC’s octagon.