Conor McGregor UFC
Conor McGregor, pictured punching Nate Diaz during UFC 196 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on March 5, 2016 in Las Vegas, is in a public feud with Paulie Malignaggi ahead of his boxing match with Floyd Mayweather. Getty Images

Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather promises to be the biggest fight of 2017 when it finally arrives on Aug. 26, but the UFC star finds himself in the middle of a feud with another boxer at the moment. Former world champion Paulie Malignaggi is taking shots at McGregor after participating in two sparring sessions as part of training for the upcoming bout with Mayweather.

Malignaggi abruptly left McGregor’s camp last week when a picture was posted on Twitter that made it appear as if he was knocked down while sparring. Accusing McGregor of twisting the facts to make himself look better, Malignaggi decided to share his side of the story.

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“He pushed me down on the floor to try and catch a break and the instant I went down I got back up,” Malignaggi told Ariel Helwani on “The MMA Hour,” recalling the moment the photo was taken. “I remember when I was down I continued to trash talk. I said, ‘Buddy, you need a break?’ because (referee) Cortez had to wipe off my gloves.”

Malignaggi had two sparring sessions with McGregor. The first one came a week earlier and lasted eight rounds. Having retired from boxing in March, Malignaggi admitted that the UFC lightweight champion got the better of him because he was not in fighting shape.

A week later, Malignaggi and McGregor went 12 rounds. This time, the fighter with 44 professional boxing matches on his resume says he came out on top, despite McGregor holding his own for the first five rounds.

“From about six rounds on, he became very hittable,” Malignaggi said. “So much more hittable that I was putting more weight on my shots and sitting down more on my shots, and of course, the body shots started to affect him more and more.

“Of course, I’m talking the whole time, because the first time he made sure to talk the whole time. Now I’m talking more and more and I’m letting him know, ‘you can’t hang, these body shots feel good, right?’”

Malignaggi accused McGregor of surrounding himself with “yes men,” giving him a false sense of confidence. If that’s the case, it doesn’t bode well for McGregor’s chances against Mayweather, who is the greatest boxer of his generation with a perfect 49-0 record.

Malignaggi admitted that he was looking for a fight with McGregor late last year before he officially stepped away from the ring. Just about any fighter that faces McGregor would be in for the biggest payday of his life, and Malignaggi would certainly make more money than he ever has.

Mayweather’s name recognition far surpasses that of Malignaggi, so it was never a bout that was seriously considered. Now, however, there might actually be some public interest in seeing McGregor and Malignaggi go head-to-head.

While insisting with Helwani that he’s retired, Malignaggi told TMZ that he would have no trouble with the Irish Fighter.

“Would I fight him? I don’t mind putting some leather on him. I enjoyed Tuesday night. I enjoyed throwing the beating that I gave him Tuesday night, and I would love to continue to do that,” Malignaggi said. “I could see that even in the half shape that I was in, I was starting to get the better of him by Tuesday. And the training camp would’ve only gotten worse, so he knew better than to keep me around.

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“I would beat his ass like he stole something. And more importantly than me knowing it, he knows it. That’s the best part.”

McGregor has been quiet since Malignaggi began to tell the media what happened during their sparring sessions. He’s still in Las Vegas, training and hoping to pull off the biggest upset in boxing history.