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View Full Version : The End of an Era - Miletich Sells


VCURamFan
12-27-2010, 02:01 PM
Great article from the Globe Gazette (http://www.globegazette.com/news/iowa/article_f88b4644-1077-11e0-ba65-001cc4c03286.html) with quotes from Pat, Matt, Jens & Monte. The article says that Pat's "selling his share", so maybe that means that the gym will still be around but Pat's leaving? Or maybe someone new is taking over the gym & it'll become the "Gasiorowski Fighting Systems"? :blink:


BETTENDORF (AP) - At the dawn of the century, Jens Pulver stepped off a train after a 2½-day ride from Sunnyside, Wash., and walked, wide-eyed, into a scene he could not have imagined.

"I still remember that first practice," Pulver said of his initial exposure to what rapidly would become the unlikeliest epicenter of the fastest-growing spectator sport in the world. "There were like 25 kids, and I'm like, ‘Oh, my God. You guys train like this all day?' They're like, ‘Yeah.' "

Said the man who later earned a worldwide reputation under the moniker Lil' Evil: "I knew I was in heaven."

Pulver, of course, was in Iowa. And he was about to become a prime player in a scene the most creative Hollywood script writer might not have been able to imagine.

Heaven then was a racquetball court at Bettendorf's Ultimate Fitness Center, a tight-quarters forerunner to the Champions Training Center that Bettendorf-bred mixed martial arts pioneer Pat Miletich helped open in 2004 and will soon sell his share.

That sale officially will mark the end of a remarkable chapter in the MMA game, now a billion-dollar industry that attracts millions of viewers to pay-per-view, subscription cable and network broadcasts on nearly a weekly basis.

Essentially retired as a fighter since 2002 - he stepped into the ring one time each in 2006 and 2008 - Miletich's training and cornerwork slowly has been dwindling as well, but now, he said, "I am for all intents and purposes retired as a coach."

That's a decision that has not gone unnoted in MMA circles, an insular world that somehow remains somewhat of an underground phenomenon even in the midst of exploding popularity and proliferating multi-million dollar shows.

Pulver said it isn't hard to understand why, given the caché a Bettendorf-based team that traveled by the name Miletich Martial Arts once carried in the sport.

"It was just the timing," said Pulver, one of seven Miletich fighters who has held an MMA world title. "We weren't the originals. But we were all there to pioneer this to the next level. So, we were right in the middle of it all. It has been an incredible 10 years."

Miletich was not among the inventors of MMA, a refined version of no-holds-barred fighting that existed in backrooms and barrooms for decades before he and others began incorporating the disciplines of Muy Thai and jiu-jitsu into the mix.

A former Bettendorf High School wrestler and football player, Miletich won his first official MMA tournament in Chicago in 1995, with former Quad-City Times sports editor and part-time boxing promoter Monte Cox on hand to chronicle the feat.

Together, Miletich and Cox would form the 1-2 punch that put the Quad-Cities in the center of the action when the UFC took off seven years later.
Miletich fought on 11 Cox-promoted cards in the Quad-Cities and around Iowa before he made his UFC debut in March 1998. Six months later, with Cox as his manager, he was the 170-pound champion of the brewing pay-per-view empire.

Today, Cox continues to stage 40 to 50 MMA shows a year while also managing 60 fighters, 12 of whom have claimed world titles of some fashion, including all of the Miletich UFC champs.

"I readily admit I wouldn't be where I am without Pat," said Cox, who ranks among the premier power brokers in MMA and who has banked millions as a result. "He was my first star. He's the one that got me into the sport. I would never have done this. There is no doubt about it."

Miletich began training in that Bettendorf racquetball court in 1995, with early training partners such as Jeremy Horn, a popular light heavyweight who won a King of the Cage championship in 2003 and fought Chuck Liddell for a UFC title two years later.

Behind him came future UFC champs Pulver, Matt Hughes and Tim Sylvia.

"We had a good time together," said Hughes, a former Eastern Illinois wrestler and the one member of the camp who Miletich actively recruited. "That's where I learned everything, up in Bettendorf. We really clicked, and we really learned from each other."

Miletich, whose focus turned to training and coaching a year after Hughes replaced him as UFC 170-pound champion in 2001, said he didn't give much thought to what was developing here, first in the racquetball court, then for a couple of years at Gold's Gym in Davenport and finally at Champions on 16th Street in downtown Bettendorf.

"Once I had that core group of guys, then it was a snowball effect that just kept rolling downhill," he said. "New guys would come in, and if they couldn't cut it, they would have to leave. And if they could cut it and survive it, they got very good and jumped into the snowball."

Like his idol, former Iowa wrestling coach Dan Gable, Miletich never shied away from "putting it on" his fighters, but that's not to say he was always the baddest guy in the gym.

"On any given day, any one guy would be the toughest guy in the room," he said. "Anytime somebody started feeling dominant, they got their (butt) kicked. That's just the way it was."

While the Miletich gym was growing in stature in the MMA world, that world was expanding, too.

Hughes, who arrived here in 1999, said: "It was one of those things where nobody noticed you. People didn't know who Pat was when we were in airports. It wasn't a big thing."

Pulver came a year later, but MMA fighting and the UFC still hadn't really arrived.

"You've got to remember when we started," Pulver said. "Legal in three states. Blacked out. It was nothing like people remember now. Then, it was kept alive on the Internet and things like that."

But it's time was coming, Cox said.

"There was a period about three years into it, I remember telling my wife, ‘If it all goes to heck, I got nothing. But if it actually catches on and goes mainstream, I'm sitting prettier than anyone could hope,' " he recalled. "And then it did."

Hughes' first checks were for $2,500 a fight, he said. By 2002, he was defending his title for $1 million. MMA was huge, and Bettendorf was the center of its universe.

Champions such as Rich Franklin of Cincinnati, and Dave Menne of Minneapolis, dropped in to train. Current heavyweight star Brock Lesnar was here. Wannabe fighters from other places came to Bettendorf to learn the craft.

In 2006, the International Fight League was founded to challenge UFC. Vying against teams from Las Vegas, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Tokyo, among other metropolises, and enlisting what Cox described as the 16th to 20th best fighters in the Miletich room, the Quad-City Silverbacks won the first league title.

Miletich and Hughes published autobiographies while Pulver wrote a pair. UFC did a pay-per-view show on the Miletich gym. "60 Minutes" came for a look, and the Miletich team was fodder for numerous national magazine articles.

Sports Illustrated senior writer L. Jon Wertheim centered his 2009 look at the UFC explosion, "Blood in the Cage," around Miletich and a world-class crew camped in the most improbable of places.

"From anywhere in the country, if you wanted to make it, you'd go to Miletich's gym," Wertheim said. "It doesn't look like much, looks like your average training center, and then you go to this back room and it's 1,000 degrees and, suddenly, it's the Who's Who of an entire sport."
By the time that book was published, things started to change.

Horn moved on to join his future fianceé and start a gym of his own in Utah in 2006.

A year later, Hughes, weary of spending time away from his wife and children in southern Illinois, left to start his own gym in Granite City, Ill.
Sylvia and Pulver still call the Quad-Cities home, but typically train for fights elsewhere. Miletich's own focus turned to his wife, Lyne, daughters Isabella, 8, and Kathryn, 6, and his more lucrative sidelines, TV color commentating and military and police training.

Prominent fighters such as Drew McFedries, Ryan McGivern, Jesse Lennox and Joe Jordan continue to train at the Bettendorf gym, and Cox said the Quad-Cities remains one of the 20 most prominent places on the national MMA map.

But the improbable tale has been told, and the man in its middle is moving on, albeit not away.

"I'll probably die here. I love it here," Miletich said of the hometown that, in retrospect, even he is amazed once was the center of the MMA world.

"When you're involved in it, you don't realize it," he said. "But when I look back I realize we had a room full of guys who were world-ranked or world champion fighters. That's the scariest room ever assembled on the planet."

Crisco
12-27-2010, 04:45 PM
weird

J.B.
12-27-2010, 05:23 PM
weird

Totally.

It would suck if there was no more MFS. :sad:

CAVEMAN
12-27-2010, 05:27 PM
Wow........truly the end of a great era! I wish Pat all the best in his future endeavors!

Spiritwalker
12-27-2010, 06:02 PM
Wow........truly the end of a great era! I wish Pat all the best in his future endeavors!

+1!!!

Thanks for all the great fights and fighters Pat!!!

VCURamFan
12-27-2010, 09:35 PM
I'm wondering who he's selling his share to. I mean, is he just going to sell it to the other joint partners in Champions, or is it maybe another name in the MMA communiy who's going to come in & take over, or is there an outside buyer who's coming in to keep the gym open & let whoever's currently running MFS keep going, or is it . . .

Crisco
12-28-2010, 12:59 AM
There really isn't much left there to buy... It's more like a regular mma gym nowthen a top tier academy.

Strange though that Pat would just give it up.

adamt
12-28-2010, 01:53 AM
Totally.

It would suck if there was no more MFS. :sad:


i dunno, it would suck more if pat just disintegrated into a b-level gym, he should go out on top with a little value left to his name

there will always be mfs, because there will always be the legacy of matt, jens, tim, even monte and pat himself

he is literally the father of mma

royce showcased bjj then pat evolved a system to make straight bjj'ers look like little girls

Chuck
12-28-2010, 04:18 PM
i dunno, it would suck more if pat just disintegrated into a b-level gym, he should go out on top with a little value left to his name

there will always be mfs, because there will always be the legacy of matt, jens, tim, even monte and pat himself

he is literally the father of mma

royce showcased bjj then pat evolved a system to make straight bjj'ers look like little girls

No disrespect to Pat or you but I think it's been a while since he or MFS has been on top.

Just sayin..

VCURamFan
12-28-2010, 05:22 PM
No disrespect to Pat or you but I think it's been a while since he or MFS has been on top.

Just sayin..
I think what he meant (and adamt, feel free to correct me if my interpretation is wrong) is that it's better now then for him to become a laughing stock. Before Pat Miletich gets mentioned in the same breath as Joe Son, Art Jimmerson & Kieth Hackney.

adamt
12-28-2010, 06:10 PM
No disrespect to Pat or you but I think it's been a while since he or MFS has been on top.

Just sayin..

I think what he meant (and adamt, feel free to correct me if my interpretation is wrong) is that it's better now then for him to become a laughing stock. Before Pat Miletich gets mentioned in the same breath as Joe Son, Art Jimmerson & Kieth Hackney.

this