MMA legend on McGregor's best shot to win: 'Cheat the entire time within the rules'

UFC Hall of Famer Pat Miletich has pretty much seen and done it all throughout a legendary MMA career as a fighter, coach and broadcaster. 

So when it comes to the idea of formatting a theoretical game plan for UFC champion Conor McGregor to have success against retired champion Floyd Mayweather in their Aug. 26 pay-per-view boxing match, Miletich kept it simple: cheat. 

"From all the different tactical technique things, just to make it very simple, I would train him to cheat the entire time within the rules," Miletich told CBS Sports during an appearance on the "In This Corner" podcast. "To make it as rough and as close to a street fight as possible and also to turn it into an anaerobic fight and not an aerobic fight. 

"That's the only way Mayweather is going to get tired -- if he goes anaerobic -- and that's the only thing I would be looking for."

Miletich, 51, won't actually be training McGregor for his pro boxing debut, of course, but he will be part of the Showtime PPV broadcast from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and isn't willing to simply join the crowd in saying McGregor, 29, has no chance at defeated the 40-year-old Mayweather. 

"I've seen so many crazy things happen during my career of coaching and fighting and commentary," Miletich said. "I've seen huge upsets on a regular basis so anything can happen. The common theme that everybody's talking is [McGregor] is bigger and stronger, he's 12 years younger and a lefty, but he also has a good chin and an ability to bring chaos and elements of a fight that Mayweather hasn't had to deal with in terms of just overall strength. 

"MMA fighters are going to be generally stronger physically. I know that boxing fans will probably be mad at that, but I've sparred with [former two-division boxing champion] Michael Nunn and other guys."

In some ways, Miletich believes McGregor (21-3 in MMA) has already won simply for getting the fight signed and elevating his brand to this level. But in terms of the actual Xs and Os, Miletich believes Mayweather (49-0, 26 KOs) could find himself in trouble if the fight goes into the later rounds and McGregor is still standing.

"[Mayweather] is dealing with a world-class athlete who is going to be stronger physically, has a good chin and has a bomb for a left hand," Miletich said. "Mayweather, not being able to knock out people for a decade legitimately, mostly because he probably wanted to keep his brain and get paid, but still hasn't scored any real knockouts in my mind leaves McGregor hanging around for 12 rounds with a monster left hand."


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Miletich, who won the UFC 16 welterweight tournament and went on to hold the promotion's welterweight championship from 1998 to 2001, doesn't expect McGregor to have success using a non-traditional boxing stance unless he is able to close distance and get inside. 

"A lot of [MMA] stances are detrimental to boxing. Not necessarily are you going to want to use them all," Miletich said. "But different times in the fight, up against the ropes, those stances are going to come into play for leverage, for strength, for off-balancing Floyd to get him stumbling a little bit and throw bombs at him. They are going to come into play at times, but a boxing stance is a boxing stance for a reason because it works in a boxing match."

The major reason Miletich isn't willing to count McGregor out is his mental toughness, which includes a history in MMA of making large predictions and backing them up inside the cage. Even if the fight becomes one-sided, Miletich doesn't expect McGregor to panic or fold.

"I see [McGregor] as a different guy," Miletich said. "To become a world champion in anything you have to fool yourself that you're able to do it. That's one level. And then to dream big enough to talk the way he does and convince himself that he can pull off a fight with Mayweather to begin with … that's just his philosophy and his mindset. 

"He's there to win. He's going to love the money obviously but he's doing this because he thinks he can win. I think it comes down to the power of the mind. The fact that he has fooled himself and convinced himself to do the things that he has done shows you how powerful a person's mind can be." 

Regardless of who wins, Miletich is just happy to see such a special event come together that can command the world's attention. 

"If McGregor wins it will be the biggest upset in sports history without a doubt," Miletich said. "If Mayweather wins it will be, 'Told you so. [McGregor] doesn't belong in this sport.' The way I see it going down, if he lasts 12 rounds with Mayweather, that's a win for MMA fighters in my mind and a win for the sport."

CBS Sports Insider

Brian Campbell covers MMA, boxing and WWE. The Connecticut native joined CBS Sports in 2017 and has covered combat sports since 2010. He has written and hosted various podcasts and digital shows for ESPN... Full Bio

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