In late June, boxing star Paulie Malignaggi will take off his gloves when he takes on former UFC fighter Artem Lobov in the main event of BKFC 6. The two rivals have been targeting a grudge match against each other for months, and soon they will finally meet in bare knuckle fashion. The two have developed a heated rivalry against one another in the last couple of years, and soon they will finally get to settle things once and for all. As far as BKFC goes, this is by far the biggest fight they can book at the moment.
During the press conference on Monday, things got really ugly, to say the least. Malignaggi said he wanted to put Lobov into a coma, and even spat on him during the staredown. But it’s what Malignaggi said about the MMA community is what is drawing the ire of mixed martial arts fans, and for good reason.
Malignaggi called the MMA community “a piece of sh*t” and then went on a rant saying the MMA community disrespected boxing. According to Malignaggi, MMA fans praise fighters — he used Conor McGregor as an example — who tap out rather than go to sleep, while tapping out is not an option in boxing. Malignaggi went on about how MMA fans don’t consider boxing to be as dangerous as MMA, even though there are far more deaths in boxing. He ended his rant by saying the MMA community will respect boxing once Lobov is put into a coma.
Although Malignaggi is just trying to build up hype for his matchup against Lobov, his comments about the MMA community are misguided. Eight years into my career as an MMA journalist and I don’t remember any fan or media member who said that what boxers do isn’t as dangerous as what MMA fighters do. It seems like Malignaggi is just trying to stay relevant in the headlines and get MMA fans invested in his matchup against Lobov, but I’m not so sure what he’s doing is working. Every MMA fan I’ve ever met, and every media member I’ve ever encountered, respects what boxers do. We all recognize it to be a dangerous sport and know the dangers of it. For Malignaggi to come out and put all MMA fans into the same bubble and blast them — just because maybe some of Lobov’s fans blew up his Twitter with nonsensical comments — is just misguided, plain and simple.
Malignaggi is upset at Lobov and understandably so considering everything that’s been said between the two, but using the MMA community as his stomping ground doesn’t seem like a smart move. He thinks it’s just going to generate more heat and make more MMA fans want to tune into his BKFC matchup against Lobov, but that may not be the case. While a certain subset of fans may tune in just to see if Lobov can beat him, a lot of MMA fans are just going to be turned off by Malignaggi’s comments and not want to pay their hard-earned money to watch a guy who called them a “piece of sh*t” compete. His comments about the MMA community come off as very misguided and to be quite frank uneducated, as the majority of MMA fans do not hold poor opinions about the sport of boxing as he claims.
Malignaggi thinks that by throwing the MMA community under the bus that he will get some extra buys for his fight. But the reality is, it might make MMA fans just stay as far away as possible. MMA fans do not want to be insulted, and maybe Malignaggi needs to rethink the way he’s selling this fight, because for many MMA fans, his comments are just a turnoff.