Dana White and Showtime are at odds.
The UFC president claims that Showtime is choosing not to air footage of Conor McGregor sparring with Paulie Malignaggi because it makes Malignaggi, who is calling the fight, look bad.
Showtime Sports Executive Stephen Espinoza’s response? Yeah, not quite.
“It’s like the Zapruder footage at this point,” Espinoza joked on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “It’s been so debated, like there’s conspiracy theories around it. We did get some of the sparring footage. Conor’s camp had shot it – so it wasn’t our cameras. They gave us about a minute, and it was a highlight reel. It was basically a minute of Conor landing a left hook, Conor landing a jab. So we said, ‘Sure, we can use it in our preview show, All Access.’”
But there were conditions.
“I said, ‘We’d like to use part of it,’” Espinoza said. “They said, ‘Either you use the whole thing as we edited it, or you don’t use it as all.’ I said, ‘It’s a minute-and-a-half, it’s sort of redundant, we get the idea – no one wants to see (the whole thing).’ It wasn’t particularly well-shot. So I said, ‘We’re editing it. We want to let people see it.’ They said, ‘If you’re not using the whole thing, then you can’t use it at all.’”
“So slightly different than how Dana characterized it,” Espinoza said. “If 60 seconds of footage is a ton of footage, then yeah, we got a ton. But what everyone wants is really a representative sample. No one wants the highlight reel of Paulie or the highlight reel of Conor. People are curious: What really happened there?
“Maybe that’s a Pay-Per-View down the line when we finally get this infamous footage,” Espinoza joked. “For $4.99, you can see what happened. That will be on the DVD version, not the director’s cut.”
In any event, McGregor’s boxing skills will be on full display Aug. 26 in Las Vegas. While Floyd Mayweather remains an overwhelming favorite, Espinoza believes the fight will certainly be entertaining and potentially quite competitive.
If it’s neither, he’ll take it personally.
“To a certain extent,” Espinoza said. “Obviously you can only make fights and then on paper, sometimes they look great and they’re only good or vice versa. But there’s a sense of disappointment. If you played in a stinker of a game, it’s not really your fault. That’s the way the ball bounces sometimes. But you still want people to be entertained.
“On this one, I’ll tell you the truth – and I’m not selling,” Espinoza continued. “I don’t think there’s a way that this fight is boring. I can virtually guarantee it’s going to be more exciting than the Pacquiao fight. That’s not a real high bar.”
Pacquiao and Mayweather authored a 12-round snoozer in May 2015. Boxing fans thought they were getting The Fight of the Century. Instead, they got 36 minutes of dancing and hugging – in part, Espinoza said, because Pacquiao put it on “cruise control.”
Espinoza doesn’t see that happening this time around.
“That’s not Conor,” he said. “He’s got nothing to lose. So I think this will be one of the more entertaining fights. I don’t know how it’ll play out, but I know it won’t be boring.”