There are few constants in mixed martial arts, but a certain “Notorious” Irishman battling with peers on social media is one of them. While McGregor’s trash talk often comes ahead of and after his fights, notably seen against Khabib Nurmagomedov and Dustin Poirier, his latest interaction derives from a USADA controversy.
After a report noted McGregor as the only UFC fighter, aside from new signings, not to have been tested in 2022, it emerged that the Dublin native was removed from the testing pool during his recovery from the leg break he suffered in 2021.
With accusations of steroid usage already rife, the revelation only enhanced those allegations, and one man who made his voice heard was Smith. The one-time UFC title challenger admitted that McGregor’s testing exemption ‘bothered’ him, also making note of the Irishman’s bulked physique.
Not one to hold back, McGregor swiftly responded on Twitter. While he did seek to explain the situation by bringing up the anti-doping organization’s “state of allowance,” the former lightweight and featherweight titleholder was quick to unload on Smith, branding him an “embarrassment of a man.”
McGregor also set his sights on Smith’s own leg injury, which he suffered this past July at UFC 277. After downplaying the severity of the break, the “Notorious” star suggested that Smith should have “let it snap” in a voice note.
During a recent episode of Michael Bisping’s Believe You Me podcast, “Lionheart” reacted to what he described as a “freakout” by McGregor.
Smith first addressed the apparent comparisons McGregor made between his 2021 leg break and the light heavyweight contender’s more recent injury. After clarifying that he never intended to place the two incidents side by side, Smith claimed that the Irishman’s Twitter rant actually proved his point.
“It seemed like he calmed down a little bit from the tweets once he put the voice note out. Like I’ve said, it was a medial malleolus break. He compared it to his, but it’s a totally different part of the leg,” Smith said. “I never said that mine was worse or that his was worse.
“What I took from that, just from his whole little freakout, is that’s exactly the point that I was making. He made my whole point by having this freakout. He said he had to do it because he wasn’t healing correctly, and the break was so bad that the percentages were really low,” Smith added. “I’m not even questioning the reason, I get it.”
Smith Clarifies His Issue, Cites McGregor’s Privilege
A common narrative surrounding McGregor’s recovery and exit from USADA’s testing pool is that the former champ-champ has utilized banned substances to aid in a quicker healing process.
For Smith, should that be the case, that’s not the issue. Instead, “Lionheart” claimed his problem lies with the fact that the likes of Anderson Silva and Chris Weidman weren’t able to have the same privilege when they suffered similar leg breaks.
“If there’s something out there that can help me heal that I can do legally, I totally would,” Smith said. “But it’s not his reasoning, what bugs me is guys like Anderson, Chris Weidman, and myself, we’ve had those injuries and we didn’t have the ability to step out the USADA pool, get yourself healed, and then come back with no repercussions. That’s my issue.
“You said, ‘Technically, he’s not breaking any rules.’ That’s because different rules apply to him. I don’t have that capability… In the USADA rules, the only way you can get out of the pool is if you’re no longer in a contract with the UFC or you retire,” Smith added. “As far as the rules are written, that’s in their rules.”
Smith concluded by suggesting that despite McGregor’s public reaction and defense of his testing pool departure, as a “fighter,” the Irishman will no doubt understand why some of his peers have taken issue with the situation.
“He was pissed. I called him out, said something about it, it was viewed a lot, media wrote sh*tty headlines, it triggered him,” Smith explained. “I think, deep down, Conor still is a fighter. So, I bet, deep down, he gets it. I bet he understands why that’s bothersome for some people. But is he gonna say that? No, never… I never once said that Conor McGregor was breaking rules, and I think that was the insinuation, that he was cheating.”
While he didn’t suffer a clean snap, the injury Smith suffered at UFC 277 appeared to contribute to his TKO loss against Magomed Ankalaev. Soon after, “Lionheart” underwent surgery to repair a broken medial malleolus.
Like McGregor, Smith is expected to return to action in 2023. But unlike the Irishman, the Texan already has a fight booked. He’ll make his way back to the Octagon on March 11 to collide with rising contender Jamahal Hill.
What have you made of Anthony Smith and Conor McGregor’s back and forth?
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