Sparring with a giant
Conor McGregor never thought he would spar with someone twice his size. But, it just happened.
The UFC two-division champion and 6-foot-9, 400-pound Hafthor Julius Bjornsson unexpectedly went toe to toe at SGB Ireland when the then-interim featherweight champion asked for a photo op.
The 5-foot-9 and 145-pound fighter posing with The Mountain resembled Bruce Lee’s famous face-off snap with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. On a media lunch McGregor said:
“[I said,] ‘Let’s take a cool picture like that.’ We squared off as if we were gonna do it. Then all of a sudden, he’s bouncing and I’m bouncing. Next thing you know, we’re having a full, bare-knuckle body shot fight.”
McGregor found the spar aggressively progressing as they continue to bout.
“I was hitting him with some shots. I had to hit him with some shots. He was trying to hit me as well and he wasn’t taking it easy. He tried to grab me and tried to pull my head off. I defended, freed the head. I was like this motherf*cker is so big, I have to start smashing him to the body.”
Bjornsson is a strongman competitor from Iceland. He’s known for starring HBO’s “Game of Thrones” as “The Mountain” Clegane. McGregor sees the Icelandic giant as a great guy.
The spar ended in a friendly clap after the champ-champ tried to take him down. You read that right, he’s that competitive… and delusional.
Fighting with one of the biggest men on the planet
Here’s how McGregor sees it though:
“No call, no. Because they saw who won, that’s why. There should have been a check. Twelve million views that video got. There should have been a show money check at least.”
Full interview below:
After all, McGregor had a great time.
“It was a lot of fun. That’s a big man — 6-foot-9, 400 pounds. And I still folded him up.”
“I didn’t want to break him”
Bjornsson, on the other hand, has a different take on the unexpected spar. He implied that he went easy on McGregor because he did not want to hurt him.
The Mountain said:
“I knew I could take him down, but I just didn’t want to break him. He felt really light. I had him a few times, but I just didn’t want to break him.”
Continuing he said:
“He’s quick and slippery, so it’s hard to get a grip. There were moments where I could have just messed him [up]. There’s a huge size difference between me and him, but I’m not used to getting punched. I’m no fighter; I’m wearing jeans and shoes. I just took my shirt off, and we were joking.”