By: Jesse Donathan
According to a May 25, 2019 bloodyelbow.com article titled, “Michael Bisping: ‘Tw-t’ Paulie Malignaggi ‘deserves to die’ for wearing fedora to BKFC press conference,” author Harry Davies writes that former UFC middleweight champion Michael “The Count” Bisping took issue with of all things, Paulie Malignaggi’s sense of style. According to Davies, “Speaking earlier this week on his ‘Believe You Me’ podcast, the worst part about the press conference for Bisping was Malignaggi’s fedora hat.”
“Any mother (expletive) that shows up wearing a hat like that deserves to die. It’s as simple as that,” writes bloodyelbow.com, quoting Bisping’s off-the-cuff remarks. According to “The Count,” Paulie Malignaggi, “… looks like a villain out of the Dick Tracy movie.”
Davies would go on to write of Bisping’s estimation of the image Malignaggi conjured up on camera that, “He might as well have had a pinstripe suit on, that big stupid gangster hat. Oh my god, it did not look good.”
Agree with Bisping or not, I will always have a great deal of respect for the former champion because he paid the price to be a prize fighter. According to a December 11, 2018 “JRE Clips” YouTube video titled, “Michael Bisping on His Eye Injury | Joe Rogan,” Bisping told the longtime MMA personality that he has a corrective lens in his right eye. “It’s a prosthetic,” Bisping told Rogan. Though interestingly enough, according to the former UFC great he does have a tiny amount of vision through his corrective lens despite it being a prosthetic.
“The injury, as Bisping explained it, is nothing new,” writes MMAFighting.com’s Shaun Al-Shatti in his September 30, 2013 article titled, “Michael Bisping ‘devastated’ by detached retina that nearly derailed his career.” According to Al-Shatti, “Back in May, doctors discovered that, astonishingly, Bisping competed in consecutive fights against Vitor Belfort and Alan Belcher with a detached retina in his right eye.”
“Bisping, who won the title against Luke Rockhold in June 2016 and defended it once against Dan Henderson in November 2016,” announced his retirement last year according to a March 28, 2018 bloodyelbow.com article titled, “Michael Bisping announces retirement from MMA after issues with other eye.” Author Nick Baldwin would go on to write that, “Bisping holds the record for most UFC wins (20) and most UFC fights (29),” including a win over UFC legend Anderson Silva.
Whether you agree with Bisping or not, Malignaggi showing up looking like a gangster from the early 20th century managed to garner a rebuke from “The Count” himself. Malignaggi set out to do exactly what he ultimately did, which is capture the headlines in the leadup to his bout with former UFC fighter Artem Lobov and that is exactly what he has done. Mission accomplished.
And interestingly enough, MMA itself has a rich history of fighters using theatrical entrances and interesting attire, particularly in Japan, which managed to help fighters get over into underground cult hero status among many fans of the era. So, it is not as if MMA is above taking a page out of Hollywood’s book either.
While Malignaggi, a two-time world champion professional boxer has a long way to go to reach cult hero status, it certainly doesn’t hurt to create an image for yourself and look the part of a ruthless assassin in the leadup to your fight.
Malignaggi is doing his part to sell the bout, managing to capture the public’s imagination for not only the things he does, but also the things he says and even the clothes he wears. This is the fight promotion game, as astonishing as it may be, this is exactly what it takes to get the fight out in front of the publics eyes and ultimately increase interest among perspective ticket buyers.
“Things at the press conference started to spiral out of control when Malignaggi hit Lobov over the head with a microphone,” writes bloodyelbow.com. According to author Nick Baldwin, Malignaggi later, “threatened to break Lobov’s teeth and urinate in his mouth.”
As BoxingInsider.com previously reported, Malignaggi justified his remarks and behavior by taking issue with the mixed martial art community and in particular sentiments from those he felt were disrespectful to the sweet science. And in amongst the sea of ridiculous, borderline insane behavior and remarks from Malignaggi were some small cornels of truth.
“See, in Malignaggi’s mind, there’s an ongoing dispute between the worlds of MMA and boxing, and the core issue is a disagreement over which sport is more dangerous,” writes MMAJunkie.com’s Ben Fowlkes in his May 21, 2019 article titled, “What are Paulie Malignaggi and Artem Lobov really selling, and are we seriously going to buy it?”
Author Ben Fowlkes would go on to write that, ““At the end of the day, no matter what happens to you guys, (tapping) assures you you’re gonna see that guy next week,” Malignaggi said at Monday’s press conference.” With Malignaggi ultimately pointing to the string of ruined lives and dead bodies in boxings wake as proof no such guarantees exist in the sweet science.
According to Malignaggi, “In boxing, you don’t have those assurances, so there’s a respect level even to the trash talk that we have, and it’s being surpassed now, it’s being overcome with this garbage that we have from this other community.” Meaning the mixed martial arts community.
According to MMAJunkie.com, the way Malignaggi sees it, “For me, I think the way you solve it, seeing one of their own in a coma, seeing one of their own in a (expletive) coffin.”
Given Malignaggi’s recent behavior and remarks condemning the MMA community, its little wonder he is getting some attention from former UFC champions like Michael Bisping who are looking for anything they can to knock the brazen professional boxer on. Fighters like Bisping didn’t escape a career in mixed martial arts without serious injury themselves; though it helps to remember that while they are two different sports this is still the hurt business no matter which rule set you’re fighting under.