When I first read the news on Middleeasy.com that MMA pioneer Pat Miletich would soon be selling his heralded gym in Bettendorf, Iowa I admit that I was more than a little stunned. MMA, and to a lesser extent boxing, is unique to sports in that despite being an individual sport there is a very tangible team mentality when it comes to the fighters and their training base of operation. Miletich’s gym has long held a certain distinction within the sport of MMA. Not only was it one of the first gym/fight team to gain recognition for the fighters it produced, but the roots of its family tree are still evident in MMA to this day.
It’s hard to imagine that it wasn’t that long ago that Miletich Fighting Systems (MFS) was one of the most respected and feared fight teams in the sport. With fighters like Miletich himself, Matt Hughes, Jens Pulver, Jeremy Horn, and Tim Sylvia, MSF captured to imagination of aspiring fighters. It wasn’t long before the very non-descript burg of Bettendorf was the epicenter for MMA training. While MFS has lost some of its luster as fighters such as Hughes and Horn branched off to form their own fighting brands and training centers the fact remains that even today there is a certain level of swagger afforded to fighters who come out of the Miletich system.
But, just as in life, things must eventually come to an end. As Miletich effectively returned from both fighting and coaching the allure of operating a gym waned. Additionally, Miletich’s newfound career as a broadcaster (he is not half bad) and this role as a consultant for military and police defense training not only bring in really good money, neither carries with them the burden of operating a gym.
Still, it is sad to sit here and write that soon there will no longer be MFS as we have come to know and love. But, I guess we can all take solace in the fact that the remnants of this once proud group of fighters, and the training systems they employed, will continue to be carried out in revered copy in MMA gyms across the world.