ESPN sports broadcaster Stephen A. Smith took a lot of criticism for his take on Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone’s performance against Conor McGregor at UFC 246.
Smith said he was “disgusted” with Cerrone’s performance, which saw him finished in 40 seconds by the returning McGregor. The mixed martial arts (MMA) community didn’t take too kindly to Smith criticizing a legend like Cerrone the way he did, including longtime UFC commentator Joe Rogan. Rogan recently responded to Smith’s comments on his podcast, saying it was a bad look for the sport.
Now, Smith took to his Twitter to post a video, responding to Rogan’s comments, noting he has a lot of respect for Rogan, but saying he was wrong on this one.
“Mad respect to Joe Rogan, nothing but respect for the man and the tremendous work he has done and he will continue to throughout the years and for the years to come. But you’re wrong on this one my man,” Smith said. “Me, Stephen A. Smith, me being at the Conor McGregor fight, against “Cowboy” Cerrone, saying what I said, that he didn’t show us much in 40 seconds.
“That warrants, ‘it’s not good for the sport,’ it’s not good for me? It’s not good for ESPN? First of all, as it pertains to ESPN, check the numbers. The subscribers to ESPN+, the level of attention that it got, the traffic that it generated in digital and beyond. Check the numbers, number one. That’s not just because of me, that’s because of you. Cause of Ariel [Helwani], because of Chael [Sonnen], because of Michael Bisping, and everybody else associated with it. Check the numbers, number one.
“That’s not good for the sport? I certainly think that’s good for the sport. I don’t claim to be the aficionado you are, or anybody else covering this sport, but excuse me. I have been a reporter for 25 years, I have covered sports on a variety of competitive levels, regardless of what the sport is. That includes boxing and the UFC.”
Smith continued on by offering Rogan to name the time and place where they could debate his take on the fight, as well as his credentials to discuss MMA, and he’ll be there.
“I stand by that,” Smith said. “I don’t think disagreeing with that position warrants the type of criticism that came in my direction. Having said that, you’re entitled, you have your right. As I have my right to respond, as I’m doing right now. But anytime you want to talk to me about this fight, or you want to talk to me about my credentials to discuss something in the world of sports. Name the time and place Joe Rogan, and I’ll show up.
“It’s not a problem. It’s not a problem at all. You don’t know me so I’m not going to knock you for speaking out the way you spoke out, without calling me – I don’t care about all that. I respect where you’re coming from. You’re just wrong on this particular one, and I’m telling you you’re wrong.”
One man who responded to Smith’s video response to Rogan was none other than Conor McGregor himself. While McGregor agreed that he didn’t show enough in the 40 seconds he was in the Octagon against Cerrone, the Irishman did seem to take issue with Smith’s comments on Cerrone. McGregor told Smith he should apologize for his comments.
“The call you discuss here is A+. I didn’t show enough. I’m not paid by the hour though. Joe’s comments however, come from you saying the opposition fighter quit. Broken nose/orbital bone say different. Fighting is vicious. Those who make the walk deserve full respect! Apologise.”
This led to a very lengthy response from Smith.
“Sir, mich respect to the great @TheNotoriousMMA. My recollection on what I said is “That’s the way it looked.” Cowboy Cerrone is a perennial top-10 fighter. Much respect to him for the lengthy career he has had. Wishing him nothing but the best. But I don’t think it’s unfair to say that more than 40-seconds was expected from as tough of an SOB as he is, @TheNotoriousMMA.
“Nor do I think it’s wrong to assume that there’s no way that’s 40-second fight would take place w/ you vs Nurmegamedov or Masvidal. We expected more than what we got. Props to YOU for that. But to know how tough Cowboy is, lots of fans like myself expected more and I don’t think @joerogan is right to question my knowledge about a fight just because I wasn’t satisfied with what I saw.
“I said what I said and I meant it. It’s possible to do that and still have tremendous respect for you @TheNotoriousMMA, along with @joerogan. Both of you are fantastic for the @UFC. I wouldn’t enjoy it nearly as much without the both of you. I wish you both prosperity in the future. But we clearly disagree about Cowboy’s performance on Jan.18.”
What do you think about McGregor’s response to Smith’s comments?