Plenty of people, including Conor McGregor and Joe Rogan, let it be known that they thought Stephen A. Smith’s harsh criticism of Donald Cerrone at UFC 246 was off the mark. But, the veteran broadcaster is continuing to defend what he said, even though he doesn’t have a MMA background.
Smith continues to defend what he said
As you likely know, Cerrone faced Conor McGregor at the January 18th event and was promptly finished by the star. McGregor stunned Cerrone with several shoulder strikes moments in, and then finished the fight with a head kick and follow-up punches.
After the bout, Smith blasted Cerrone’s performance. While appearing on the ESPN broadcast, Smith argued that “Cowboy” didn’t “show up” and he piled on the rugged vet for getting hurt in the clinch.
Those comments prompted plenty of blowback from fans and MMA figures, including Rogan. The latter even argued Smith should not be commentating on UFC bouts, since he doesn’t have a fighting or martial arts background.
“Fellas, I’m learning the sport,” Smith said. “Muay Thai, being in a rear-naked choke – I don’t know. I never said I knew. What I said was I was at that fight. I know what the hell I saw for those 40 seconds. I’m not debating the sport. Like, for example, there’s a whole bunch of cats that talk basketball. You think they know basketball like I know basketball? I’ve been covering the sport for 25 years. I got inside information all over the place. No, I’m an aficionado on basketball. I’m a reporter and spectator everywhere else.”
“So as a result, I might sit up there – like for example, you might have somebody like my man Max Kellerman, you cover boxing. Max could tell you who the 30th-ranked fighter in the world is. I don’t give a damn about him. I’ll see him when he gets up to the top-10. I’m focusing on here ‘cause I ain’t got time, I got to do all of this. I ain’t got time to watch the 30th-ranked fighter. You see what I’m saying? But if I did watch him fight, I know boxing enough to know what I saw. So when you had cats coming at me, I’m sitting here, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa. Wait a minute.’ I didn’t sit up there and say, I’m Joe Rogan and I’m breaking down the nuances of the sport. I’m saying, I saw Conor McGregor fight this dude for 40 seconds.”
Now, whether you agree with Smith’s comments about Cerrone’s performance or not, it is worth noting that this is what he’s paid to do. Smith comments on various sports – as he noted – that he’s not an expert about.
Smith repeats criticism about the shoulder strikes
Then, while backing his initial criticism that Cerrone reacted poorly to the shoulder strikes, Smith said this:
“This is your 50th fight, dog. You didn’t know how to back up and catch your breath? Then, oh, by the way, you went out in 40 seconds. Then we find out it’s your first pay-per-view fight. Oh, how man times we’ve seen brothers step in the ring and they going like this, ‘Bright lights might have been too much for them.’ But because it’s Cowboy Cerrone and it’s the MMA, suddenly I’m not allowed to say that? That’s ridiculous. That’s ridiculous.”
Now, others have opined that it’s not often in MMA, if ever, that you see shoulder strikes with as much power and precision that McGregor utilized. So, is it fair to blast Cerrone for being dazed by the blows? Even if “Cowboy” has been plagued by slow starts in the past?