Pat Miletich: Strictly Business
It’s been a very good year for Pat Miletich (Pictures).
Matt Hughes (Pictures) won probably the most hyped UFC
event ever. Tim Sylvia
(Pictures) pulled off an incredible
upset of the “unbeatable” Andrei Arlovski (Pictures). Miletich’s Silverbacks team won
the championship in the inaugural IFL tournament on Fox Sports Net,
a promotion that is off to a very promising start. His affiliate
schools are popping up like Starbucks. He’s launching a new fight
promotion company. Oh, and he’s making a comeback against Renzo Gracie (Pictures).
In a Sherdog.com exclusive, Pat sat down to discuss his plans.
Sherdog.com: Congratulations. Your guys have been on an
incredible roll lately. Never mind Matt — have you recovered yet
from Tim’s win?
Pat Miletich (Pictures): Both of them were incredible
fights. We’re really happy with Tim showing as much heart as he
did. We expected him to win — we just didn’t expect the emotional
rollercoaster of getting dropped, then getting back up, and then
putting Arlovski down. That was definitely an emotional
rollercoaster. And the tension with Matt’s fight with Royce was big
and Spencer Fisher
(Pictures) performed incredibly well
Sherdog.com: We heard that Tim’s effort in preparing for
(Pictures) was as great as anything
ever seen at Miletich. Is that how you’d characterize it?
Miletich: Tim always trains hard for fights; he definitely put a
lot of time in. He really wanted to avenge his loss to Andrei and
prove to be people that he was the rightful owner of that belt.
Sherdog.com: You also told us that Matt was indignant that Royce
would even get in the ring with him.
Miletich: Matt trained extremely hard, trained quite awhile for
that fight — gosh, he trained almost three months.
Sherdog.com: Were you surprised at how easy it was?
Miletich: No. We thought that Royce was definitely going to give
him a little more trouble than that. I pictured a second or third
round stoppage. But people — I guess even us — don’t realize how
far the sport has come and just how great a wrestler, how technical
Matt is at jiu-jitsu and how fast he is, and how strong he is.
People just don’t comprehend it until he actually grabs a hold of
them for the first time.
Sherdog.com: Can you add some color to what these wins mean for
Team Miletich, the organization?
Miletich: Our Web site hits were quite high before those fights,
but they have definitely gone up. It’s definitely piqued some
interest in our gym and our affiliate program and everything that
is going on with it. We feel that we have a great system for not
only putting out great fighters but having many students that are
very happy with it, whether it’s a housewife or a businessman that
wants to get in great shape like a fighter but not get beat up.
We’ve got 21 affiliates in six months and it seems to be catching
on quite a bit. Dave Kujawski, our VP of new business development,
has been very instrumental in that. He is a very knowledgeable
marketing guy, very organized on the business aspect of it. He’s
been helping a lot with the support on the business side for the
people who get involved in our affiliate program.
Sherdog.com: Let’s discuss the affiliate program first. What’s
it about? How does it work?
Miletich: For people that show interest and want to learn from us
and want to take the knowledge that we’ve gained over the years and
give that to their students, we’re definitely more than willing to
do that. We want to help their schools and help them with the
business. Whether it’s the fighting aspect or the fitness aspect
we’ll help them on that side also. It’s really a complex thing. I
had no idea the can of worms we were going to open up when we
started this. But it’s a blast and we’re having a lot of fun with
it right now.
Sherdog.com: So how does this work? Is this for someone who has
an existing school already?
Miletich: If somebody has an existing school and wants to see their
business succeed or maybe expand, whether it be on the actual
martial arts side or the business side, or both, we just fill in
the gaps for them any way we can.
Sherdog.com: So it’s almost like the school becomes a
Miletich: To a certain extent. Once they submit their résumé of
their experience, because I can’t take just a guy who’s done just
tae kwon do his whole life or somebody who doesn’t have any
experience in martial arts and just let them open up an affiliate
school. It has to be somebody who’s been in business quite awhile
and has some knowledge of grappling and striking and is decent to
Sherdog.com: So in terms of skill sets and background, who’s the
ideal partner for you?
Miletich: If they have a fairly well balanced martial arts
background, whether it be on the mat and striking, is what we’re
looking for, and somebody with an open mind who is willing to keep
learning, because that’s our mindset. It’s a never ending evolving,
Sherdog.com: If they want to approach you, how do they do
Miletich: They usually contact us through the MFS Elite Web
Sherdog.com: So it’s not like someone can call you up and say,
“I tried running a school, I couldn’t get any critical mass behind
it, can you help me start a new school?”
Miletich: We would not go that route. We’re definitely shying away
from anything like that. We want somebody to have an existing
school in place, and ready to bring us in.
Sherdog.com: Once they sign on, are you going to back them by
appearing in seminars at their facilities?
Miletich: Myself and maybe some of my fighters.
Sherdog.com: Do you have a pre-set curriculum?
Miletich: We have level 1 through 5 certifications. You can look at
some guys and say, “This guy’s incredible on the ground and
standing up, he knows a lot, but maybe it’s in the way he delivers
it to his athletes or his students. Maybe he’s missing on the
functional fitness part of it, to actually build bodies to perform
the type of stuff he’s teaching them. There’s no use teaching
anybody any techniques if they’re not physically able to do it. You
have to build a body that’s able to do it. That’s important.
Sherdog.com: Do you have a belt system?
Miletich: I rarely do any of that. There’s only eight guys that
have expert black belt-type rankings and you can guess who those
people are. But yeah, we do rank them.
Sherdog.com: From a marketing standpoint: In light of the
“McDojo” mentality of “I’ve got to get a belt,” is that an
impediment to getting new students?
Miletich: For me, people aren’t going to get ranked overnight at
all. That’s a 10-year process. For me, people should be very happy
just to get to the first level. It’s not my goal to create a bunch
of black belts. It’s my goal to make a bunch of people who are very
fit, and know how to defend themselves and some great fighters come
out of that also.
Sherdog.com: So there will be franchise fees from their side? So
Miletich gets a recurring revenue stream?
Miletich: Exactly. We’re also in the process of starting the fight
organization where we will put on events featuring a lot of the
athletes from our affiliate schools from around the country.
Sherdog.com: At this point, you’ve been approached for affiliate
programs not just in the United States but around the world,
Miletich: We plan on opening one in Greece probably at the end of
the year to begin in 2007, possibly Italy. [A school in] Beijing
has also contacted me. So we’re looking at several different
places. We’ll probably have four in Canada by the end of the year.
So we’re excited about that also. Ultimate goal is to open one in
Zagreb, Croatia, though. (laughs)
Sherdog.com: That would be the toughest school, I’m
Miletich: Yeah. (laughs)
Sherdog.com: So the schools will feed up to the new fight
Miletich: Yes, and it will serve as a great feeder program for guys
that eventually want to make it over to our facility to start
fighting at a higher level or even from their existing facilities
to be able to compete in the IFL or UFC or PRIDE or whatever event
it is they end up in. We’re just trying to help as many people as
possible get to where they need to be and build a strong group of
fighters. We’re going to try to do events in some of the cities
where some of those affiliate schools are to help bring notoriety
to their schools and advertising and things like that.
Sherdog.com: It’s almost like a farm system then.
Miletich: Exactly. The main thing is to get guys experience. We
never intend for it to actually to make it to TV or pay-per-view
level. I don’t want it to grow to that point.
Sherdog.com: Why not?
Miletich: Because I want it to serve as a feeder program.
Sherdog.com: So it will just attract more attention around the
name, and even help recruit, even though you don’t do that?
Sherdog.com: What’s the name of this promotion company?
Miletich: We have not finalized the name at all.
Sherdog.com: How many fight promotion companies can the sport
support? It seems like everybody’s got one. Who’s next? Giant
Miletich: That’s the main reason I have no desire to try and make
it big. When you stay in venues that have two- or three-thousand
seats, you don’t lose your ass. It’s a good revenue stream, and
it’s helping a lot of kids get some good experience. It’s not a
risky venture. There’s already several huge organizations out there
with the IFL, UFC, PRIDE and WFA. So I have no desire to try and
build another huge organization; that’s not my goal.
Sherdog.com: Let’s talk about IFL. As predicted your team is
doing great right out of the chute. How are the productions
themselves going? How are the ratings?
Miletich: IFL has done everything and more that they said that they
would do. They’ve been incredible to work with. Kurt Otto and Gareb
Shamus are very sharp businessmen as well as guys that are looking
out for the athletes. They understand that the athletes are the
sport, so they’ve got to take care of the athletes. They’ll reap
the rewards for doing that because the athletes are going to remain
very loyal to them. As far as the ratings are concerned, I know
that the first show out of the chute blew PRIDE’s ratings on Fox
Sports Net out of the water.
Sherdog.com: I was skeptical and so were other fans, about the
quality of the fights, but they’ve been great.
Miletich: The fights were great. The TV production has been
incredible. They’ve got guys like Peter Lasser, very experienced
guys who really know what they’re doing and have packaged a great
Sherdog.com: Have you been renewed?
Miletich: I don’t get involved in that, we just know that things
are pretty secure. FSN seems to be very happy with what they’re
seeing, and that’s all that matters to us.
Sherdog.com: So when’s the next event after the finals?
Miletich: September 9 in Portland, Oregon. And September 23, in
Moline, Illinois, where I will be fighting Renzo Gracie (Pictures).
Sherdog.com: So you can say it now? How did this fight
Miletich: Renzo and I have been friends for quite awhile and he has
always been a nice person and I consider him to be, probably the
most well rounded Gracie. Very talented on the ground, and he’ll
stand up and bang with people, too. That instantly tells me, “He’s
a warrior.” Not only that, he’s a standup guy. He’s willing to come
and fight me in Moline, Illinois, which is right across the
Mississippi river from my hometown. So he’s coming right into the
arms of the beast to fight me. That shows he’s very confident,
also. So hats off to him. I’ve got a lot of respect for him. Out of
all the Gracies, I respect Renzo the most.
Sherdog.com: Speaking of confidence — this is a lot different
from other comebacks these days. … There will be no tune-up
Miletich: I plan on jumping right in. If there’s a tune-up fight
coming my way in early August, I’ll take it [laughs]. I’m just
excited to get back in there. I’m healthy again, I feel great. For
me this is also a test. When I had a severe neck injury three-plus
years ago, the neurologist told me I’d have to have surgery; I’d
never be the same; I wouldn’t be able to function; wouldn’t be able
to do anything. But I feel great, I’ve been training with my
fighters off and on for two years now.
Sherdog.com: So what did you do to overcome the injury?
Miletich: Chiropractic care, stretching, lifting. Once I felt
strong enough, solid enough, started rolling around and sparring. I
feel great. The neck’s not bothering me at all. For me, it’s kind
of a battle with myself. I want to be able to tell my body when I
want to quit and not the other way around. Just getting in the ring
with Renzo is winning a battle.
Sherdog.com: Any comments about upcoming fights for the Miletich
Miletich: Robbie Lawler
(Pictures) is fighting in ICON on July
1. They’re building the hype to fight Jason Miller later this summer.
Tim is defending against Andrei on July 8.
Sherdog.com: That didn’t take long.
Miletich: Well a lot of the champions are injured and Matt just
fought so they asked Tim to step up to defend his title because
they needed a big fight, a big match-up. So Tim was a bigger man
and stepped up.
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