by Jeff Cain – MMAWeekly.com
GO TO MMAWEEKLY TV TO SEE VIDEO INTERVIEW
Prior to leading the Silverbacks to the first team championship in the International Fight League, Pat Miletich spoke with MMAWeekly about the IFL, the UFC, and the lawsuits between the two companies.
When the IFL kicked off their debut event in April, several questions about the organization were on the minds of fight fans. How would the team concept work? What were the rules? Would American mixed martial arts in a ring add to the validity of the sport? Viewers came to their own conclusions when the IFL aired on Fox Sports Net.
Pat Miletich had nothing but good things to say about the IFL’s splash on the MMA scene. He commented, “The one thing about this organization is that they have done everything that they said they would do. That’s rare in this sport. They’re setting the bar a little higher for everybody. That’s great. Competition is great for the sport. Everybody is going to benefit. The high tide raises all the ships. The UFC is going to benefit, Pride is going to benefit… the WFA, the IFL. It’s so exciting to have more avenues for the athletes to compete in.”
When asked about the obstacles that the IFL might face in the coming year, Miletich replied, “I see really no obstacles. There are a lot of people on board. There are a lot more people that are coming on board, and I really don’t see the obstacles. I think there’s a few people out there that had a problem with the team concept, but when you think about it, anybody that was raised in a wrestling concept, you wrestled for yourself, and you wrestled for your team. Even in amateur boxing in the Golden Gloves, there are team points kept, and individual. So, yes it can be a team sport, and it’s great.”
Miletich added, “There are a lot of people out there that don’t understand wrestling, but there are millions and millions people out there who love fighting. So, when it transfers over from the team concept in wrestling, amateur boxing, [and] things like that into mixed martial arts, it’s an easy fit because everybody loves to watch it… nothing is better than when one team has two victories, the other team has two victories, you’re down to the last match, down to the last round where each guy has won one round, and it’s pivotal for the team. Also, when you connect the city names to the teams there’s going to be a lot of allegiance to those teams. It’s really going to go well.”
Miletich gave a public deposition on behalf of the IFL in the ongoing court battle between the IFL and the UFC. He was asked if he regretted it, or if he was happy with his statements. He answered, “I don’t regret it at all because at some point you’ve got to stand up for yourself and what you believe and the fighters and the athletes. I had to do it. I was pushed into a corner, and that’s the way it is. I’ve got to feed my family, too, and I’m going to do what I have to do for the athletes, myself, and for the sport. I knew the IFL was good for the sport… and shortsightedness on the UFC’s part, but it’s going to be good for the UFC, too.”
Miletich further commented, “The UFC is obviously trying to protect their interests, and you can’t blame them for that, but at the same time, hey, everybody has got to pay their bills. You know? There’s enough money for every man’s needs, but not enough for one man’s greed. That’s just the way it is. I’m looking out for the fighters. The UFC was looking out for the UFC, and we’re going to butt heads. That’s just the way it’s going to be. I still support the UFC. I’ll still train fighters and throw them in the UFC. I’ve always loved the UFC events, and as long as they allow it to happen, I’ll be here to help.”
When asked about the court cases between the UFC and the IFL, and whether they will go to trial, Miletich responded, “I’m not sure what is going on with the court deal. I know the IFL did very well down in Vegas, and I don’t think they have any problems there, but I don’t know. I think the UFC has got to go to court now. The IFL is bringing them up to New York as far as I know, but I’m staying out of that.”
Miletich continued, “When you get another event on TV, you bring more fans. The more fans there are out there, the more fans that are going to buy UFC pay-per-views. The sport is just getting more exposure, so it’s easy for me to see. It might be hard for some other people to see, but eventually, maybe we’re already seeing it. Maybe the buys are already going up, aren’t they?”
During his interview with MMAWeekly, Miletich told a very interesting story about his friend and colleague Bas Rutten, who is also a coach in the IFL. The story is about Rutten and Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher. Miletich said, “Urlacher and his brother were at the fund raiser where Bas showed up, and they were mad a Bas because Bas stole all of their thunder… Bas went up, played the drums, sang a song for the crowd. Everybody was cheering and roaring for Bas.”
As Miletich continued the story, he said, “Bas jumped down off stage and walked past the Urlacher, accidentally stepped on the tip of one of the Urlacher’s shoes, and they shoved him. Bas apologized three times in a row, and they kept saying, you know, ‘We’ll smash you, you little twerp.’ They didn’t know who he was. Bas just finally turned around and said, ‘That’s three strikes and normally you would be out, but this is a charity event and we’re supposed to be gentlemen.’ Bas turned around to walk away and Urlacher from the Bears said, ‘Do you want to take it outside?’ The crowd is thinking Urlacher is picking on somebody, and everybody laughed at Bas. Bas turned around and said, ‘Yes, I’d like that very much.’ The bouncers intervened and told Urlacher who Bas was, and what was about to happen. Then Urlacher was suddenly apologetic.”
Pat Miletich is scheduled to come out of retirement to fight fellow IFL coach Renzo Gracie on September 23rd at an IFL show in Moline, Illinois.
GO TO MMAWEEKLY TV TO SEE VIDEO INTERVIEW