So Conor McGregor got knocked out by his sparring partner while training for his Aug. 26 fight against Floyd Mayweather. Or he didn’t. It really all depends on whether or not you believe the story boxer Jessie Vargas told during an interview over the weekend:
Those choosing to believe the story are already using it as proof to show that McGregor stands no chance in the ring against Mayweather. If McGregor can’t defend himself against some guy that most people have never heard of (for the record, Vargas claimed McGregor’s sparring partner was Bradley Wheeler), then how is he going to defend himself and hold his own in the ring with one of the best boxers of all time?
For what it’s worth, Mayweather has already come out and said that he’s not necessarily buying the story Vargas is selling. He actually has a working relationship with Vargas and revealed that he’s been talking to him lately about doing some kind of deal with Mayweather Promotions. But despite that, he isn’t quite ready to buy into the hype surrounding McGregor’s alleged KO:
“If I ain’t seen no footage, I don’t believe it,” Mayweather told Fight Hype on Monday night. “Me and Jessie Vargas are in communication. We’re talking about working together with Mayweather Promotions…But I can’t—everything is rumors until I see it. I’m the type of person, I have to visually see it with my own eyes.”
There are other people who are skeptical about Vargas’ story, too:
And we think it’s worth mentioning that this is not the first time McGregor has been forced to deal with a rumor like this. In fact, less than a year ago, he went through the same exact thing—and we want to remind you about what happened when everyone started doubting him in that instance.
Back in early October 2016, McGregor was in the middle of training for his UFC 205 fight against Eddie Alvarez when a report emerged about how he had supposedly been “knocked out cold” while sparring at Straight Blast Gym in Ireland. MMA insider Dizz—@TalkMMA on Twitter—sent out a since-deleted tweet about what he heard with regards to the knockout. “I was told by someone close to SBG, McGregor was allegedly knocked out cold in sparring today,” he wrote, “possible broken nose, shaky to his feet.”
Dizz also added that the alleged knockout could play a role in McGregor’s ability to prepare for the Alvarez fight:
Just like with the Vargas story, it didn’t take long for fans to start reacting to that story, either. Within just hours, there were quite a few people wondering how McGregor was going to be able to keep up with Alvarez in the Octagon if he couldn’t even keep up with some random sparring partner:
But in that case, it didn’t take long for McGregor’s coach John Kavanagh to respond to the knockout allegations. He fired back at Dizz’s report with this:
He also responded to a fan who commented on the report by saying this:
And he even went as far as to post this:
Eventually, Dizz responded to him and argued that he was simply reporting what he had been told by a source at McGregor’s gym:
McGregor himself didn’t really address the knockout rumor. He was actually dealing with a $150,000 fine he received from the Nevada Athletic Commission at the time in the aftermath of his wild UFC 202 press conference with Nate Diaz. That story broke on the same day as the knockout story did:
But he seemed to subliminally respond to the knockout story by posting this on Instagram the following day:
Kavanagh also continued to downplay the report about the alleged knockout. In late October, he did an interview and said that he and McGregor laughed off the report when they first heard about it.
“He swung by the gym that evening and I said to him, 'That’s a rough day—$150,000 fine and you got knocked out in training,'” Kavanagh said. “We kind of had a giggle about it. I think it turned out to be some fan, as a joke, messaged a US-based—I think 'reporter' would be a strong word—tweeter. All these guys just have Twitter accounts and they put out tweets. Your man swallowed it hook, line, and sinker. It just picked up steam very, very quickly, and within minutes, I’m getting my mother ringing me saying, 'What the hell is…happening to Conor?'”
The MMA world may have been wondering what was going on with McGregor, but he clearly didn’t let the speculation surrounding his supposed knockout bother him. If anything, he likely used it for motivation, and on Nov. 12, he made UFC history when he beat Alvarez easily at UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden in New York City to become the first fighter in UFC history to hold two title belts at one time. He beat Alvarez by TKO in the second round to take control of the featherweight belt and the lightweight belt—and he did it in spite of those pesky knockout rumors that plagued him in the weeks leading up to the fight.
So what can we learn from that whole situation? Well, for one, we can learn that McGregor probably isn’t all that upset about the rumors Vargas started by sharing his story. We can’t say that for sure since McGregor has, so far, stayed silent and refused to respond to it directly. But he did share this photo on Instagram on Monday night along with the caption, “Sparring today,” which seems to suggest he has, at least, heard about the Vargas report:
We can also learn that it’s silly to completely write off McGregor simply because of the most recent knockout story. There were plenty of people who wrote him off back in October, too, when the story about him getting his nose broken first emerged, and that turned out to be a bad idea. Those who thought McGregor wouldn’t be able to throw punches with Alvarez turned out to be very wrong.
And of course, we can learn—for what feels like the millionth time—that you probably shouldn’t believe everything you read on the internet, especially when it comes to McGregor. Maybe he got knocked out during a sparring session. Maybe he didn’t. But don’t let that be the deciding factor for whether or not you think he stands a real chance against Mayweather.
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