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Conor McGregor wanted to fight Paulie Malignaggi in MMA, says John Kavanagh

Conor McGregor Esther Lin, Showtime

The great sparring scandal between Conor McGregor and Paulie Malignaggi was well documented in the lead up to Floyd Mayweather’s polarizing boxing bout against the Irishman.

After Malignaggi left the camp due to leaked sparring pictures, the former boxing world champion lambasted the living conditions for McGregor’s sparring partners and questioned the punching power of “The Notorious”.

On fight week, Malignaggi got nose to nose with the Dubliner as he made his grand entrance a few days before he was scheduled to meet Mayweather.

Many believed that Malignaggi was looking to set himself up for a fight with McGregor, and according to his head coach John Kavanagh, the UFC lightweight champion wanted to face the former boxing champion in the Octagon.

“Conor wanted that,” Kavanagh told Mike Sheridan at the launch of the Original Penguin AW17 collection in Dublin on Wednesday night.

“He said to me, ‘Let’s get him in the Octagon’, and I said that there was no way that he would fight in MMA. You’ve got to be able to prove yourself in the arena.

“When Conor wanted a boxing license they could look at the Diaz 2 fight where there was more or less 25 minutes of boxing. Why would Paulie go to MMA? He’d never go to MMA.

“Now, Conor could tweet now and say ‘I’m fighting Paulie Malignaggi’, and I guess I would be wrong then.”

Kavanagh explained how the camp had taken to exception to Malignaggi fielding interviews after his first sparring session with McGregor.

“It wasn’t just general stuff explaining how he was part of the camp. He had to go back to New York to do some promotion for the Andre Ward fight, and straightaway he was disrespecting (McGregor’s) power.

“He was saying this and that, and I was thinking, ‘What are you doing, you have to come back here and spar Conor in seven days?’”

Kavanagh said that the camp would have had no problem with Malignaggi if he had waited to do interviews after the fight.

“This guy is a former world champion, he should know that you should keep your mouth shut until the fight is over – then write a book, then do fifty interviews,” he said.

“That would have been no problem, we would have no issue with that. But you can’t go the next day and the day after that and the day after that, and start giving away ideas we have.

“That’s what threw me off, he wasn’t acting like a professional.”

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