Thursday, March 22, 2007

Five Ounces of Pain: An interview with Pat Miletich

By Sam Caplan

Most mixed martial arts fans are familiar with the name Pat Miletich. They know Miletich as the curator and head instructor of Miletich Fighting Systems, which houses past UFC champions such as Jens Pulver, Matt Hughes, and Tim Sylvia.

But newer fans to MMA may not recall Miletich's career as a fighter. It's a career that spans more than 10 years and accumulated 37 victories. Miletich is also a former UFC welterweight champion and was the UFC's first-ever lightweight champ.

Fortunately for newer generation fans, it appears likely they'll get another opportunity to see one of the greatest fight trainers in MMA fight one more time.

Q: You ended a four-year retirement and fought for the IFL against Renzo Gracie this past September. Do you have any plans to fight again?

PM: Yeah, it actually sounds like Renzo and I should be doing a rematch. I got a neck procedure -- they're going to do a laser procedure to fix a problem I've had with my neck for quite some time. That's why I took the four-year layoff. Then (I) rehabbed the neck and (I) thought it was good and then re-injured it about, I don't know, about five weeks before the fight and just tried to tough it out. It didn't work out so well; he caught me in a guillotine choke, which isn't real good when you've got a bad neck. But it sounds like we'll do a rematch this summer.

Q: And will that be for the IFL?

PM: Of course.

Q: IFL Battleground debuted on MyNetworkTV last Monday and the show caused a lot of controversy. What were your impressions of the first show?

PM: Definitely the sport has come a long way since its inception, and the 9-1-1 stuff and things like that, it was done by people who weren't familiar with the sport, probably producers and directors who thought it would be good to show the toughness of the sport, and it turned out to be a bad move on their part. But the IFL is listening to the fans, and listening to the athletes and the coaches and have adjusted that show accordingly.

Q: Did you feel the second show was an improvement over the first?

PM: Absolutely. It was a great show. I think there's still work to be done, but bringing Bas Rutten on board was a very smart thing to do. Bas is a great guy, great coach, great fighter, and a great commentator, so he's perfect as a host for the show.

Q: Overall, what's it been like working with the IFL thus far?

PM: The IFL has done nothing but everything they said they would do. That's a first for me in the sport, and I've been in the sport since the beginning. I told my wife a long time ago, if one person would come along and actually did what they said they would do -- because I've had 100 people call me with great ideas that would have made everybody rich, but none of them ever followed through. And I told her if anybody ever came along and actually did what they said they would do, we'd be millionaires. They're (the IFL) actually doing what they say they're going to do. That's a great thing. They're very honest as far as that stuff goes.

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