Sunday, August 06, 2006
MILETICH MAD AT THE UFC
It was less than a month after the International Fight League announced that Bettendorf mixed martial arts legend Pat Miletich would return to the ring against Renzo Gracie at The Mark of the Quad Cities on Sept. 23 that the Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White created a Team Miletich conflict.
White announced July 17 that Miletich’s most powerful welterweight disciple, Matt Hughes, would meet the No. 1 contender for his belt, Georges St. Pierre, the same night, halfway across the country in Anaheim, Calif., in UFC 63. He’s getting ready to announce that another of Miletich’s fighters — 155-pound former UFC champion Jens Pulver — will make his long-awaited return to America’s largest mixed martial arts organization to fight an as-yet-unnamed opponent.
White insists that he has no ulterior motives for choosing the date he did and establishing a tough pay-per-view rival to the IFL’s own pay-per-view show.
“Yeah, like I structure my whole year’s schedule around what the IFL’s doing,” White said with a strong sense of sarcasm and a laugh Thursday. “The IFL’s another one of the small shows in the country that’s helping build the grassroots of this sport. Unless someone tells me the IFL’s doing something, I don’t even know they exist.”
Miletich sees it differently.
“That’s Dana White’s business strategy,” he said Thursday morning. “He’ll keep making enemies and we’ll keep making friends. Eventually, the worm will completely turn. I’m sure he offered Matt a large financial incentive to fight that night. When Matt wins, Jens wins, our team (the IFL entry Silverbacks) wins and I win, everybody’s going to be good.”
White is aware that Miletich interprets the move as a dirty one.
“I’m sure he does think that. Pat’s a paranoid lunatic, and he thinks that the UFC’s always trying to (mess) with him,” White said. “The IFL sells 1,000 tickets. It wasn’t a dig on Pat, but he’ll think it was.”
With Hughes and Pulver expected to be in California for fights, the cheering section for Miletich will be lighter. It’s a situation that Pulver admits is unfortunate and Miletich said Hughes is bummed about.
“It sucks that it’s got to be like that,” said Pulver, who never has lost in seven career UFC fights. “None of us want to miss that. He’s our guy. That’s our coach, but things happen. I’ll be on the phone before and after my fight, ‘How’d it go? What’d he do?’ ”
Lil’ Evil didn’t see getting another call from the UFC. He’s spent the past five years primarily fighting in Japan and last fought in March, his only fight of the year.
“It wasn’t so much a desire to fight in the UFC again. I just figured it wasn’t going to ever happen,” he said. “They moved on and I moved on.
“I’m just getting ready to beat somebody senseless.”
White, like Pulver, isn’t sure how everything straightened out.
“I don’t know what happened. I never had any intention of bringing Jens back,” he said. “I like Jens. I never had a problem with Jens. I always talked to Jens. I’m excited about this. Nobody’s really heard from Jens since he left the UFC.”
During the afternoon Thursday, Miletich and members of the Silverbacks were guests of the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. They met with the players and were announced during the game.
“I guess the Cubs were
psyched because they’re huge fans,” Miletich said.
Sean Moeller can be contacted at (563) 383-2288 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by Doug Jefford