Shortly after Conor McGregor made quick work of Donald Cerrone in January, ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith put forth some controversial comments.
“Here’s the deal: 15 seconds in, ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone was done,” Smith said right after the fight. “He got hit with those shoulders in the clinch, and he was done. It looked like he gave up. It was just an atrocious performance on his part.
“You know the difference between a fighter that’s calm, cool, collected, and ready for the pressure, and it’s out-weighed by somebody that’s clearly in over their head,” Smith added. “When you look at ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone, that was not a guy that was prepared to fight tonight.”
After making these comments, Smith was torn apart my the MMA community for weeks on end, even catching criticism from UFC commentator Joe Rogan.
As it turns out, however, Smith’s comments were on the mark.
Speaking to ESPN ahead of his short-notice UFC 249 battle with Anthony Pettis, Cerrone confirmed that his head wasn’t in the right place for his fight with McGregor.
“Donald showed up, Cowboy wasn’t there,” Cerrone said. “The wrong guy showed up, couldn’t get going, couldn’t get excited, couldn’t get fired up, didn’t want to be there. Biggest fight, all the attention, my time to shine, I didn’t want to be there. S**t, it was crazy man. I don’t know why, I don’t how, I don’t know how to change that, but it sucks man.
“Sometimes I show up there and I’m f***ing ready, I’m fired up and I’m ready to go, sometimes I get there and I’m like ‘I don’t even want to be here,’” Cerrone added, confirm the suspicions Smith put forth. “So, don’t know, no idea, wish I had the answer. Two days before the fight I was f***ing like, it was just hard. When I showed up there that morning, it was like ‘Man, f**k’ I just wasn’t feeling it.”
It did not take long for Stephen A. Smith to catch wind of these comments. Here’s what he had to say:
“so all you MMA folks — who I profoundly respect — am I off my rocker now??? When you’ve covered sports intimately as a reporter for a quarter-century, you see things sometimes. I respect the hell out of @Cowboycerrone, but he just wasn’t there that night.”
What do you think? Do we owe Stephen A Smith an apology?