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Stephen A. Smith stands by Donald Cerrone criticism: ‘I know what the hell I saw’ at UFC 246

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Stephen A. Smith
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He might be new to MMA, but Stephen A. Smith doesn’t want to hear any criticism of his criticism.

The ESPN pundit appeared on Sirius XM’s Ak & Barak show to discuss his harsh assessment of Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, which made the rounds after Smith said he was “disgusted” by Cerrone’s 40-second loss to Conor McGregor at UFC 246.

MMA personalities ranging from McGregor to Joe Rogan to UFC president Dana White himself have rebutted Smith’s opinion, but the hot take artist has defended and qualified his statements and he did so again, citing his inexperience with covering cagefighting as a reason for his approach.

“Fellas, I’m learning the sport,” Smith said. “Muay Thai, being in a rear-naked choke - I don’t know. I never said I knew. What I said was I was at that fight. I know what the hell I saw for those 40 seconds. I’m not debating the sport. Like, for example, there’s a whole bunch of cats that talk basketball. You think they know basketball like I know basketball? I’ve been covering the sport for 25 years. I got inside information all over the place. No, I’m an aficionado on basketball. I’m a reporter and spectator everywhere else.

“So as a result, I might sit up there - like for example, you might have somebody like my man Max Kellerman, you cover boxing. Max could tell you who the 30th-ranked fighter in the world is. I don’t give a damn about him. I’ll see him when he gets up to the top-10. I’m focusing on here ‘cause I ain’t got time, I got to do all of this. I ain’t got time to watch the 30th-ranked fighter. You see what I’m saying? But if I did watch him fight, I know boxing enough to know what I saw. So when you had cats coming at me, I’m sitting here, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa. Wait a minute.’ I didn’t sit up there and say, I’m Joe Rogan and I’m breaking down the nuances of the sport. I’m saying, I saw Conor McGregor fight this dude for 40 seconds.”

The fight was indeed a short one and Cerrone’s performance had to be disappointing for fans of the 14-year veteran. McGregor’s unorthodox shoulder strikes stood out, though Smith doesn’t understand why Cerrone wasn’t able to recover given how much experience he brought into the fight.

Smith wondered if the pressure got to Cerrone, mistakenly thinking that this was Cerrone’s first pay-per-view appearance (it was Cerrone’s first pay-per-view main event, not first fight on pay-per-view).

“I saw this dude get hit with three shoulder shrugs right to his nose. He backed up, had a chance to run away for a few seconds to gather himself. Didn’t do it,” Smith said. “Only did one side kick, which didn’t connect. Then got kicked in the side of his head by Conor McGregor. He goes down and out.

“This is your 50th fight, dog,” Smith added. “You didn’t know how to back up and catch your breath? Then, oh, by the way, you went out in 40 seconds. Then we find out it’s your first pay-per-view fight. Oh, how man times we’ve seen brothers step in the ring and they going like this, ‘Bright lights might have been too much for them.’ But because it’s Cowboy Cerrone and it’s the MMA, suddenly I’m not allowed to say that? That’s ridiculous. That’s ridiculous.”

(h/t Bloody Elbow)