The sparring match was short, and none too sweet. One Tweet, following a press query, a re-joinder, then a counter-punch, and for now, the dustup between Showtime boxing boss Stephen Espinoza and MMA shit-stirrer extraordinaire Conor McGregor flared up, then died down, on Friday.
The quickie tussle stems from the interview Dana White did with Kevin Iole, in which he showed contempt for the Showtime suits, with whom he worked with, to a degree, for the August showdown with Floyd Mayweather. Showtime was the lead promoter, and UFC didn’t, to my eye anyway, do all that much promotion, as compared to how they promote their events. I’m not sure if they didn’t see it to their benefit or what the dynamic was, but all in all, it LOOKED on the outside like Team UFC/White/McGregor and Team Showtime got along OK or well enough to craft a quite successful event. Now, how successful seems to be at the heart of this Espinoza v McGregor tango.
White said to Iole moving forward, he’d not be inclined to work with Showtime. Who really, truly knows why…it could be five different things…maybe he’s looking to align or partner up with a platform which is a competitor to Showtime/CBS. Only he knows his motivation for poking at the Sho men.
He told Iole of his distaste for Showtime’s people, and when I asked the NY-based cabler's peeps about it, said they didn’t wish to have a back on forth on that subject.
Espinoza is no Dana White, in that he has fun on Twitter, but he’s not inclined to get into a Napalm tossing war with folks on social. But today (Friday), the day after the Iole-White chat drew buzz, Espinoza had this to to say on the matter, on Twitter, in response to a Jed Goodman query:
The Irishman, who IS inclined to beef, here, there, anywhere, took issue, posting this:
His spell-check was down, as he misspelled “schmuck.” Also, he asserted a new element, that “we” are the “global kings.” Worldwide, he added, redundantly…Anyway…Was Conor referring to “we” as in UFC, or “we” as in the McGregor-Mayweather promotion? I can't be sure…
But Espinoza fired back with the speed and accuracy of a master counter-puncher:
Oh, right, McGregor trotted out his “weasel” tag for Espinoza, which he'd used to fine effect during the fast and furious “Expletives Not Deleted” promo tour with Floyd to hype their collision. And as you see, Espinoza fact-checked the Conor boast, making clear that worldwide revenues for #MayMac didn't surpass #MayPac.
And that’s where it lays. Will they flare up again? If they, Espinoza and McGregor, don’t, I think White will come back to it, because combustion is his natural state of being, very often. His passion for the biz over flows, very often, and such rows seem to be fuel for him.