If legendary mixed martial arts trainer Pat Miletich was the one advising Conor McGregor on his upcoming boxing match with the undefeated Floyd Mayweather, he knows what he’d tell the UFC lightweight champion and neophyte pugilist: Exploit every last grey area in the rulebook.
“[If] I’m training a fighter who’s going into that fight? Cheat within the rules, the entire fight,” Miletich said on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour.
MIletich, the UFC’s first-ever 170-pound champion, has been associated with mixed martial arts from the outset. He knows full well that if an MMA fighter wanders into another fighter’s speciality without similar experience, he’s going to need every break he can make for himself.
“Its got to be that close to a street fight,” Miletich said. “Get two warnings for everything before they take a point, and look, if you get a point taken, you get a point taken. It’s not like he’s winning on the cards anyway. I’m just being honest.”
Miletich, who these days serves as an MMA commentator for AXS-TV, will work the Aug. 26 fight in Las Vegas for Showtime in a TBD role.
And while Miletich, whose Bettendorf, Iowa gym was one of MMA’s first great specialized camps, has an obvious love for the sport, he says he’ll go into the event as a fan of all forms of combat.
“If McGregor pulls off that upset, you realize how big that is for MMA. It’s gigantic,” Miletich said. “It really is. But I try to tell people I’m a combat sports fan. I love boxing, I love judo, I love this, I love that, I love it all, all the different forms of combat sports. So it’s not, to me it’s not about being a boxing fan or an MMA fan or anything. I don’t want to be a purist. All these forms of combat have something to offer to me. It’s human out there testing each other spiritually, physically and mentally against each other. It’s very cool.”
Miletich believes that if McGregor’s going to have a shot at pulling off what he’d consider “the biggest upset in combat sports history,” he’s going to have to take some risks in order to draw the 49-0 Mayweather out of his nearly flawless defensive style.
“Mayweather’s good at scoring points, staying ahead on the cards and coasting to victories,” Miletich said. “Will McGregor pull him out of that and make him go out on a limb and try to knock him out? That’s the thing. But McGregor’s got a good enough chin, and I think he can hang around, and that means he’s in there for 12 rounds with that monstrous left hand. It doesn’t matter who you are. If you are that weight and you get hit with that left hand, its going to hurt you.”
And that’s where exploiting the limits of the rules come back into play. Miletich detailed some of the things the southpaw McGregor could do to try to throw Mayweather off his game.
“The constant pressure of the tap of the back of the head and the push to the hip at the same time to make the head pop back to throw stuff,” Miletich said. “The bringing the head through and throwing a lead hook which would be opposite side for him. Stuff like that. Blocking the leg when he gets them in the ropes, because they’re the same stance, lean forward, clashing, block the outside of the leg, and get him off balance and take the leg out from under him. Make him stumble, make him lose his balance, and unload on him.
“A lot of different stuff like that to get people off balance, you know?” Miletich continued. “That’s the thing. And he’s got to go at the same time Mayweather goes. He cannot counter by getting out of the way and throwing back. He’s gone. You have to throw at the exact same time as he throws.”
It remains to be seen whether McGregor can pull any of this off. But one thing Miletich doesn’t doubt is the magnitude of the event itself.
“It’s certainly the biggest combat event ever in the history of, I mean, this is, you think about Thrilla in Manila and [George] Foreman, [Joe] Frazier and guys like [Muhammad] Ali and Frazier and Foreman and all those guys, I mean, this is going to rival, if not beat that.”