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Roy Jones JR to the MMA: UFC Former Welterweight Champion Pat Miletich Speaks of his Challenge

Interview by Geno McGahee

“I think the people around Roy and I see this fight as a match-up between two legends and want to make it happen.” – Pat Miletich

Boxing vs. MMA is a hot topic in the world of “combat sports,” and the opinions vary as to what sport is better and just who the toughest fighters in the world really are. When an MMA guy steps into the boxing ring, they lose most of their game and pay for it and when a boxer steps into the cage, they are usually off of their feet and tapping out within seconds of the opening bell. Boxers do not do well against mixed martial artists in their world and vice versa.

James Toney is a good example of this. The former world champion of multiple weight classes had never been stopped by a boxer but quickly tapped out to Randy Couture in the Octagon. The appeal is there for a boxing meets MMA collision.

I recently wrote an article about Roy Jones, JR., and his continued boxing career and the risks that he runs as some other older fighters do as well. I was quickly contacted and made aware of a proposed bout between Roy and former UFC Welterweight Champion, Pat Miletich. I was told that Roy backed out on three occasions and that Roy had to “pawn his IBO Ring” to make money because he was so hard up. This situation made me curious.

Here is a sampling of the email:

When asked about MMA Roy Jones Jr. says he wants Anderson “The Spider” Silva or other top 10 MMA competitors. Well ROY was offered the opportunity to Fight PAT MILETICH on 3 occasions now and on all 3 ROY played Dodge Ball!

Recently from a PAWN SHOP the IBO WORLD TITLE ring of Roy Jones Jr. was purchased! So he does not need money yet his jewelry is showing up in pawn shops? He is dressing in old costumes and is already done!

Who was Pat Miletich? I don’t follow the MMA outside of sporadic views when something is heavily publicized to the point it gets my interest. I watched the UFC in its infancy when sumo wrestlers were taking on lightweights, but when Dan Severn came around and would lie on top of a guy for 15 minutes, they lost me. A lot has changed since then and the sport is more popular now than ever. Actually, it’s more popular than boxing as a whole.

Miletich is a former UFC Welterweight Champion. He has an impressive record of 29-7-2, 5 KO’s, 18 Submissions. He has his own training camp, has done commentary for Strikeforce, and is still looking for another moment in the combat sun. Roy Jones, JR., has made statements that he would like to face some of the mixed martial artists and Miletich is ready to give him the chance. The odds are stacked heavily against Roy accepting considering just how poorly James Toney and other boxers have done, but if the money is right and he does have financial hardships, then anything is possible.

RSR Readers, Roy Jones, JR., I present Pat Miletich and his challenge to the all time great, Jones…

GM: You have had great success in Mixed Martial Arts. Can you explain what drew you to this sport and what it took to do so well in such a tough sport?

I had to quit college and go home due to my mother’s health problems. I planned on wrestling in college, but I had been distracted since my father had died, and my mother’s health problems compounded the problem. I was working 3 jobs to help pay bills and decided that MMA was a way to pay bills quicker. I think the reason I was successful in MMA was simple. I gave myself no other option. I was determined to win .a title or die.

GM: When the UFC first began broadcasting Pay Per Views, there were no weight classes and there were a lot less rules. Through time, weight classes were established and it became far more organized. You would go on to win the UFC Welterweight Title. How do you feel about the evolution of the UFC and how were your experiences with the company?

I think the sport of MMA has made for an amazing success story and proof that you can win against all odds. The sport was down and almost out, due to pressure from politicians and boxing commissions. Thankfully the New Jersey state athletic commission stepped up and made it happen. That commission, along with Larry Hazzard, Nick Lembo and John Perretti were the real reason for the implementation of weight classes, new rules, etcetera. Also, the fighters and fans did not give up during those dark times and we really owe those loyal fans a debt of gratitude. Without them, the sport of MMA was dead.

I had mixed experiences with the UFC. Dana White and I have butted heads, but that is in the past. The Fertitta brothers put 40 million dollars of their own money into the UFC and were ready to pull the plug right before they landed the TUF show. Even though Dana White and I have had our differences, He and the Fertitta’s were instrumental in the sports survival. I give credit where credit is due.

GM: What do you think about James Toney getting a reported 4 million dollar paycheck for stepping into the octagon without any MMA experience? Is it a slight to the real MMA fighters?

No, it’s not a slight at all. It’s about putting asses in seats and selling pay per views. The James Toney versus Randy Couture fight was an easy sell. Hell, I knew Toney was gonna get crushed, but I still watched it. I think the only disrespect, was that Toney disrespected himself. He should have gotten in great shape and fought at a lower weight vs. a smaller guy. He would have stood a much better chance against a smaller guy then Couture, and would have looked better doing it.

GM: Do you think that the UFC recruiting guys like James Toney and Kimbo Slice are hurting the sport, reverting back to a sort of novelty phase that it seemed to have in its infancy?

MMA has always needed a touch of WWE in my mind. MMA fighters are generally not smack talkers, so now and then anything that can generate more interest is a good thing.

GM: You have your own training center, where you help mold future MMA stars. What prompted you to create it and how do you consider its success thus far?

I created MFS so I had a place to train and also train the way I wanted. My work ethic did not match the facility I started in. I grew up wrestling and it’s a different mentality coming from a wrestling background. The intensity level is very high in wrestling and MMA, and my first trainer did not understand this. Training other fighters while I was competing was a way to create great training partners and prove I had the knowledge to create monsters. We have had over 90 televised fighters and 14 world champs and this is something I’m very proud of.

GM: There is a war of sorts between boxing fans and MMA fans, arguing over which fighters are the best or toughest. Do you think that it’s an unrealistic comparison because both boxing and the MMA are so different as far as tactics and what is allowed? Is there really any way to tell which fighters are better?

I honestly think it’s very unfortunate that this even takes place between fans. It’s really the same fan base over all. The nature of the sport of MMA is going to create better athletes as a whole, due to the skill sets needed. This is not saying there are not great athletes in boxing, but overall the MMA guys are gonna be stronger, faster and more explosive. Not more explosive and have the speed with their hands, but overall they are physically more well rounded. I have trained with a lot of boxers over the years and they don’t do the workouts we do. MMA is a sport that takes aerobic and anaerobic endurance, where boxing is mostly aerobic. Aerobic training like running, sprint work, swimming, bag routines, mitt work, sparring, etc, is essential. The anaerobic conditioning in MMA is explosive Olympic lifts, plyo’s, kettle bells, takedowns, grappling, etcetera. This is something that boxers generally don’t do. Imagine how long it takes to get good at boxing. Now times that by 4 when you think of the skill set needed for MMA. You need a lot of knowledge in boxing, muay -thai kickboxing, wrestling and submission grappling. There is so much to learn that it makes your head spin.

The reason they don’t train like we do is simple. They don’t need to.

GM: You have recently had a campaign to call out Roy Jones, JR., to a bout. He has reportedly rejected you on three occasions. Why do you want to fight Roy? Why is he the man on your radar?

I haven’t really called him out, but I do find the fight very interesting. I think the people around Roy and I see this fight as a match-up between two legends and want to make it happen. Roy is honestly the best athlete ever to get into a boxing ring. I have sat ringside and watched him at work and the speed is blinding and flat out fun to watch. I appreciate greatness when watching any high level athlete, and Roy is one of the absolute greatest of all time. I think Roy and I both deserve a gigantic fight and this fight would certainly garner a lot of media and fans, so it makes sense. I am also at the point of my career, that fighting anyone less then Roy’s status makes no sense for me.

GM: If Roy were to agree, what sort of fight are you looking for? An MMA fight? A boxing match? Something in between?

It would be an MMA fight, but I’m not looking to simply go out and take him down. I am not on Roy’s level in boxing terms, but I am a danger to him due to my boxing experience and Muay-Thai background.

GM: Roy is a very arrogant fighter. He’s called out Anderson Silva. He has called out Mike Tyson in the past, but both fights most would contend were never going to happen because Jones would have never fought either. Do you feel that Roy is disrespecting your sport by calling out Silva and what do you think his motivations are for doing so?

He wants a challenge also. He’s proven all he needs to prove, the same as I have. He is not happy fighting guys like Omar Sheika, who pose no threat to him. He needs big name fighters to step in with him to make some big paydays, so it makes perfect sense to me.

GM: What do you think of his Captain Hook costume? Do you think he’s making a mockery of the sport of boxing by not only wearing it but by continuing to fight?

No. I think whatever guys do to market themselves is their business. I also don’t think Roy is making a mockery of the sport by continuing to fight. He’s a good enough athlete that he still capable of beating anyone. He’s been getting caught and hurt over the past few years, but he is still as dangerous as anyone out there.

GM: I’ve heard a story about Roy’s IBO Championship ring being pawned. Can you talk a little about that, and do you think that money problems are bringing him back into the ring over and over again when he is well beyond his best days?

I have no idea about Roy’s financial status, and it’s absolutely none of my business. I would hope if we did fight, it would be because he wants a challenge in life. A fight between us would certainly get us out of bed early every day to train hard. There aren’t many fights out there that I see making us do that otherwise.

GM: Part of Roy’s problem seems to be these groupie journalists that cling tightly to his backside, saying “go win the title again champ.” What do you think of this sort of journalism and this message that has been sent to Roy?

Well I have always told my fighters not to read their own press. It can give you a false sense of who you are and distort why you’re doing what you’re doing. I think Roy needs to do what makes him happy and what takes care of his family.

GM: What do you think it will take to get Roy into a fight? He seems content in taking on manageable competition like Danny Santiago.

Like I said, there has to be a new mountain to climb in life for every man. People that are “A” type personalities like Roy and I need this to thrive. We recognize that we are here on this planet for only so long, and we need to get the most out of it while we are here.

GM: It was reported that Roy was offered big money to fight you? How big is big? What would the offer be for Roy to face you?

I’m not sure of the total number, but I’m pretty sure it’s a substantial amount.

GM: If Roy doesn’t fight you, do you have anyone else on your radar from the boxing world?

They tried to get Winky Wright, but that fell apart. Winky would have been a fun fight also. A big name is all I’m looking for to be honest, and in my head, Roy is as big as it gets in boxing.

GM: What do you think of the Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather JR fight not materializing? What do you think the underlying reason is for it?

It unfortunate that that fight has not happened. I could make some guesses as to why it has not happened, but I would only be speculating.

GM: Who would you pick if that fight were to come off today?

That’s a very tough call. Manny is relentless and Floyd has sick movement and speed. It would be incredible though. I think those two guys could bring boxing back to the forefront with that fight. They not only owe it to each other, but also to the sport of boxing. I would pay big money to sit ringside at that fight and love watching both. I’m a fan of Mayweather’s, even though he makes some negative comments about MMA. Manny is a killer. How can you not like this guy?

GM: Getting back to the MMA. What do you think that they are doing right that boxing is doing wrong? Why does their pay per views seem to outsell boxing’s on average? What could boxing learn from the UFC and the rest of the MMA groups?

I think that MMA is a sport that contains that element of unpredictability that boxing does not have. The upsets are always possible and the tide turns often in an MMA fight. It also keeps the fans glued to the action, because the end can come suddenly. One of the other obvious things MMA is doing right, is the show and win money. That pay structure makes people fight hard. They won’t give up easily, because they want the win bonus. This is something that boxing could certainly use. I also think both sports need to have warnings for stalling, and points deducted for excessive stalling. This would make boxing a lot more fun to watch.

GM: You have done commentary for several MMA cards. Do you enjoy it and is it something that you see yourself doing for a long period of time?

Yes, I work on the Strikeforce cards that air on Showtime sports. It’s a lot of fun and I love working as a commentator. All the people at Showtime have put a lot of work into helping me get a better handle on the broadcasting side of sports. I hope I am able to do it for many years.

GM: If you had one thing to say to Roy Jones JR right now if you were face to face with him, what would it be?

I would let him know, that I have enjoyed watching him throw bombs at other fighters over the years and look forward to trying dodge them when and if he and I fight.

GM: Do you have anything to say in closing?

In closing I would simply say that I am a huge fan of boxing and hope it can do what it needs to, to make a successful surge back to its glory days. I miss the Hearns, Hagler, Duran, Leonard, Barkley and Mugabi wars of the past. Those were epic moments in sports history.

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