The debate over whether Conor McGregor knocked Paulie Malignaggi down or pushed him over in sparring continues to rage, even after UFC president Dana White released footage of the pivotal moment. Malignaggi left McGregor's camp for the August 26th Floyd Mayweather fight after images of him on his back surfaced on the internet. Since then he's been on a near nonstop media tour proclaiming he wasn't knocked down.
The video footage released on the internet makes it look like Conor knocks Paulie down with a flurry of punches, but when slowing the footage down it's a bit less clear. Some are saying that it looks like McGregor pushes Paulie's head down moments before he falls. To get to the bottom of it all, The MMA Hour had veteran California State Athletic Commission ref Tom Taylor give his thoughts.
“I may have called it a knockdown," Taylor said (transcript via MMA Fighting). "Because the last thing to land was a short right hand to the side of Paulie’s head. That could still constitute a knockdown. It’s a judgment call and I think it could go either way. I wouldn’t argue it either way if a referee said it was a knockdown or no knockdown.”
“The first time I looked at the video, that quick six, seven seconds, it looked like a knockdown. But when you slow it down, you can see how he has him held down behind his neck, behind his head. Paulie pulls up and he lets go, momentum is taking him. And then there’s that short little right hand that lands. So it would definitely be a judgment call right then and there. But looking at this video, I would say no knockdown.”
That being said, Taylor was impressed by the footage he saw of McGregor sparring, saying he was surprised with how Conor was putting together his punches. Whether or not it will be enough to score a real knockdown on Floyd Mayweather remains to be seen.