Espinoza Responds to McGregor’s Insults
TORONTO — One of Conor McGregor’s more stunning diatribes during a wild, raucous world tour stop Wednesday was when he ambled over to Showtime Sports executive Stephen Espinoza on stage and called him a “f*cking weasel” twice.
McGregor was upset that his microphone was cut off Tuesday during the MayMac World Tour stop in Los Angeles. Espinoza said Wednesday that it was technical difficulties at Staples Center and not a Showtime choice to mute “The Notorious.”
The Irishman obviously wasn’t buying it, because he targeted Espinoza and Showtime in his comments on stage in front of approximately 16,000, saying they can try all the tricks they wanted, but he would win in the end — Aug. 26 when he meets Floyd Mayweather in a boxing match in Las Vegas.
Espinoza, the Showtime Sports and Event Programming executive vice president and general manager, told MMA Fighting after the press tour stop here at Budweiser Stage that he was taken aback by McGregor’s overtures.
“I’m not sure whether it’s part of the show,” Espinoza said. “I’m not sure how much is a put on. It seemed more than that. It certainly wasn’t a wink and a nod. And it wasn’t backstage saying, ‘Hey, I’m doing it for the good of the show.’ The reality is you see what some athletes — whether combat sports or otherwise — the need to invent enemies and invent opponents to motivate. He’s obviously got that in Floyd. If this is part of his process of imagining the world against him and motivating himself, then that’s his his process.
“I’m a big boy. It’s certainly not somebody that has come after me as a network. It did take me a little bit by surprise, but it’s part of the entertainment value of the McGregor business.”
McGregor said “f*ck Showtime” at a press conference after the tour stop Tuesday in LA, referencing the mic gaffe. But, of course, he wasn’t done, bringing that back up again as part of what he feels is a larger story on this tour. Showtime is Mayweather’s broadcast partner and McGregor comes from the world of the UFC and MMA.
Espinoza said any whispers that Showtime is trying to take away McGregor’s time would be foolish, because they want the back and forth between the two fighters. It’s the best way to promote the fight, Espinoza said. He added that he wouldn’t reach out to McGregor’s team to discuss the issue ahead of the Brooklyn tour stop Thursday or London on Friday.
“I don’t think so,” Espinoza said. “He’s a grown adult, I’m a grown adult. If that’s the way he wants to conduct himself, we as the network or me personally are not gonna change it. It’s one of the things that you appreciate Floyd for. Floyd certainly has his flaws like we all do, but there’s always been a sense of professionalism in everything he’s done. That isn’t always the case with some of his opponents.”
When asked if he was insinuating that McGregor was unprofessional, Espinoza demurred.
“I’d like to sleep on it, but it took me by surprise,” he said. “At the end of the day, I’m a big boy and I still got two more opportunities to respond if I need to.”
Original Story: MMAFighting