RFA 10: Pat Miletich to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award
By Resurrection Fighting Alliance (via press release)
LAS VEGAS, NV – Ed Soares, President of Resurrection Fighting Alliance (RFA) today announced that on Friday, October 25th, the RFA and AXS TV will join together to honor former UFC Welterweight Champion, coaching legend and current live sports commentator Pat Miletich for his many achievements and contributions to the sport of mixed martial arts.
Soares stated that Miletich will be presented with a lifetime achievement award as part of the RFA 10 AXS TV event the very night it takes place in Des Moines, Iowa, which is in close proximity to his hometown of Bettendorf, Iowa.
“Pat Miletich is a legend and a true pioneer in mixed martial arts,” said Soares. “As a fighter, he was the first ever UFC welterweight champion, and as a coach, he was the first to devise a training program fully dedicated to MMA with ‘Miletich Fighting Systems.’ Pat is truly among the most influential figures in MMA and is largely responsible for building some of the greatest champions ever to enter the Octagon.”
“Recognition for Pat Miletich’s contributions to mixed martial arts inside and outside of the cage is long overdue,” said Andrew Simon, CEO of AXS TV Fights. “We were honored to broadcast the final fight of Pat’s legendary career and have him join our AXS TV Fights commentary team soon after. Pat’s work on the microphone and his deep knowledge of the sport is second to none.”
Miletich will receive the award on Friday, October 25 during the RFA 10 broadcast taking place live from Hy-vee Hall in Des Moines. RFA 10 will air live on AXS TV starting at 10:00 p.m. ET/7:00 p.m. PT.
There are many ways one can describe Pat Miletich and his legendary fighting career that began exactly 18 years ago, but it is perhaps best to quote an excerpt from the popular 2010 book written by Sports Illustrated senior writer L. Jon Wertheim. In his book entitled, Blood in the Cage: Mixed Martial Arts, Pat Miletich, and the Furious Rise of the UFC, Wertheim describes Miletich in the way that many truly know him:
For all the fast-spreading appeal of Mixed Martial Arts, you’ll find its heart and soul in a boxy gym in small-town Iowa. It’s an unlikely crucible for a sport with global aspirations. But it is here you’ll find Pat Miletich, the man who serves as a bridge between the sport’s past and future. For most of the 1990’s, Miletich staked a claim to the mythical title of Toughest Man in America. Though only 170-pounds, he was a lavishly skilled mixed martial arts champion who, just as important, became a legend for his appetite for training and his threshold for pain. When the sport resided in the underground and the UFC was consigned to the margins, Miletich was a cult figure, making more successful defenses than any fighter in UFC history. – L. Jon Wertheim
Growing up in the Midwest, Miletich found his solace and glory in sport. He was a gifted athlete born with a toughness and desire to learn. He was a standout wrestler and football player at Bettendorf High School in Bettendorf, Iowa. This is a famed high school in the Hawkeye State that routinely sends athletes to NCAA Division I college programs for both wrestling and football.
Miletich had been wrestling since the age of six, but utilized his wrestling technique on the gridiron as well. During his senior year, he was an All-State nose guard despite standing 5’10 and weighing 165-pounds. This was due to Miletich’s early realization that utilizing effective techniques of leverage that he learned in wrestling could often give him the edge, even when he was out-weighed by 100-pounds. Miletich used technique and leverage to outplay much larger opponents and would later incorporate that same innovative ideology into his famed fighting and coaching career.
Miletich chose to wrestle in college over playing football, but ended up leaving school to take care of his mother, who was having medical problems. He has stated that he chose to begin fighting professionally to help pay for her medical bills. As fate would have it, Miletich’s legacy would also begin with that very decision. Miletich took the concepts of technique and leverage that he used in other sports with him upon entering competitive MMA at age 26. Miletich was first influenced in the sweet science of boxing by his uncle Johnny Miller Miletich. His uncle was a member of the U.S. Olympic Boxing team at the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles and also fought as a boxer professionally.
Miletich started boxing regularly under the tutelage of Alvino Peña in nearby Davenport, Iowa, which he used to complement his strong wrestling base. He further supplemented his striking with karate training and his grappling pedigree with jiu-jitsu. Miletich blended all of these martial arts into his training routine and system of fighting before making his MMA debut with a big statement. He made his professional MMA debut by choking out three men in one night at the Battle of the Masters MMA tournament held in Chicago on October 28, 1995.
Miletich would go on to dominate the first 15 men he would face in MMA, which included 14 stoppages. Finally, on March 13th, 1998, after compiling an impressive 17-1-1 record, he entered the UFC’s first-ever lightweight tournament at UFC 16. This was for fighters under 170-pounds, now the modern day welterweight division. Miletich would defeat both men he fought that night to win the tournament.
On October 16th of that same year, Miletich would win the inaugural UFC welterweight title against Mikey Burnett at UFC 17.5 in São Paulo, Brazil. Miletich would defend the title four times and his reign over the UFC welterweight division lasted 931 days. This currently ranks as the third most title defenses and second longest consecutive title reign in the UFC welterweight division’s history.
Miletich would wrap up his remarkable MMA career with a stellar 29-7-1 record, which includes notable wins over John Alessio, Shonie Carter (twice), Andre Pederneiras, Jorge Macaco Patino, and Chris Brennan (twice).
Pat Miletich is the architect of mixed martial arts,” said Kirik Jenness, founder of MixedMartialArts.com, one of the longest running and most respected MMA sites in existence.
“He created the blueprint that every MMA champion has followed since – you have to have skills in wrestling, kickboxing, and submissions – sufficient to hang with national class exponents in each separate discipline. He was the first UFC welterweight champion, and was greater still as a coach, producing during 2002-2003 UFC champions in three of the five weight divisions. Pat’s achievements in the sport will never be equaled.
For all of Miletich’s accomplishments inside the cage, he is perhaps even more revered for his influence on the sport of MMA outside the cage or more specifically on the side of the cage cornering one of his many famous fighters. Miletich went on to found Miletich Fighting Systems (MFS), which is an MMA academy in Bettendorf. MFS has trained over 100 televised fighters and no fewer than 11 MMA world champions.
The long list of champions and stars that Miletich has coached at MFS, includes former two-time UFC welterweight champion and UFC Hall of Fame member Matt Hughes, former UFC middleweight champion Rich Franklin, former UFC light-heavyweight title challenger Jeremy Horn, former two-time UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia, former UFC lightweight champion Jens Pulver, current UFC lightweight star Spencer Fisher, and former EliteXC middleweight champion and current UFC welterweight star Robbie Lawler.
Matt Hughes said of Miletich, “I have nothing but respect and gratitude for Pat Miletich. I know I speak for many other fighters when I say that he is definitely one of the greats in our sport and is the reason that so many of us had successful careers in MMA. Congratulations on your award, buddy, you deserve it.”
Rich Franklin, upon learning of the award, quickly credited Miletich for helping him not only become an elite fighter but also a future UFC champion.
The first time I went to Pat’s gym, I planned to gauge myself as a fighter,” said Franklin. “After Pat hit me with enough body shots that I preferred getting hit in the head, I knew I had much to learn. I spent the next couple of years driving from Cincinnati to Iowa, several times a year, to work with the guys in his camp. Without the high level of talent there to help build my foundation, the UFC would not have been in my future.
Renzo Gracie, one of the most respected figures in MMA, who competed against Miletich as a fighter and a coach said, Pat Miletich is made of the hardest material on earth. He’s an honorable fighter and it is fierce champions like him who made me who I am. I humbly thank you my brother, I am your biggest fan forever.”
Miletich was also the coach of the Quad City Silverbacks in the team-based IFL. The Silverbacks won the first two IFL World Team Championships and were finalists in the third and final edition of the competition. This makes Miletich the most successful coach in the history of the league. Ben Rothwell, Jake Ellenberger, Bart Palaszewski, L.C. Davis, Rory Markham, and Josh Neer are just a few of the future standout fighters Miletich coached on the Silverbacks.
Miletich may be most known for his highly publicized contributions to the development of champions and stars in the sport of MMA, but one might argue that it is those people he has trained outside of the sport that has made an even greater difference in the world.
For nearly two decades, Miletich has trained local, state, and federal law enforcement officers as well as military personnel from all branches of the United States Armed Forces. This includes special operations forces attached to those branches. He has also written and designed defensive tactics and combative courses for various combative companies.
Miletich is the co-founder of Fire Horse Combatives, which trains law enforcement officers and military personnel. He was also the primary subject matter of the aforementioned book Blood in the Cage: Mixed Martial Arts, Pat Miletich, and the Furious Rise of the UFC by L. Jon Wertheim. This is the popular book that details Miletich’s biography, illustrious fighting career, and his famous fighting camp Miletich Fighting Systems.
Miletich is currently considered by media and hardcore fans alike to be one of the most insightful commentators in combat sports today. He began providing color commentary for Strikeforce on April 11th, 2009 for its debut on Showtime and did so regularly until that promotion’s final show in early 2013. Miletich continues to provide color commentary for ESPN’s MMA Live and for various promotions on AXS TV as part of the network’s AXS TV Fights (formerly HDNet Fights) programming. Miletich alongside his verbal sparring partner Michael Schiavello can be seen and heard regularly on Friday nights working for all of the world class promotions under the AXS TV Fights umbrella. Those fight promotions currently include RFA, Lion Fight, Legacy FC, XFC, MFC, CFA, and BAMMA.