MMA Twitter was firing on all cylinders heading into the weekend as Stephen A. Smith, Joe Rogan, and (eventually) Conor McGregor were intertwined in a pointed debate concerning the latter's fight against Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone at UFC 246 last weekend.
Stephen A. brazenly contended that Cerrone "quit," his evidence being that the bout lasted less than a minute. Rogan, a longtime UFC commentator, pushed back hard against that suggestion only for Smith to double down. On the heels of it all, McGregor subsequently called for an apology from the ESPN personality.
Though he often refuses to take a single L from Max Kellerman at the debate desk, the "First Take" co-host has no choice but to accept defeat here.
For starters, Smith is hardly familiar with the finer points of mixed martial arts. Even the most charitable framing would cast him as a casual fan. With that in mind, we should take this scorching-hot take for exactly what it is -- fuel to ignite debates across social media.
(His supposed "expertise" pertains to the NBA, and even that isn't precise all the time. Watching him attempt to analyze the UFC is like watching a tacky American tourist attempt to order at a restaurant in Thailand.)
The ESPN loudmouth swooping in to disparage the tough-as-nails Cerrone's integrity is nothing short of a farce. Cowboy is a legend to the sport with multiple all-time records to his name; Smith's lack of knowledge and even basic respect for the fight game and its athletes could not have been made any clearer.
Rogan and McGregor both know it.
As Conor wisely noted, all fighters who step foot inside the Octagon deserve respect. Cerrone sustained fractures to his nose and orbital bones prior to Conor's bout-sealing blow, and will be barred from competition for about half a year while he recovers.
By no means did Cerrone concede the fight. Nobody took a dive that night in Las Vegas. Stephen A. should do right in his honor by delivering a sincere apology on Monday's episode of "First Take."
Naturally, he won't.