There are only a handful of fighters in UFC history who can truly be considered “pioneers” of the sport. Pat Miletich is one of those few. Not only was Miletich a dominant fighter and great champion, but he was widely considered to be the best trainer in all of MMA during the heyday of his Miletich Fighting Systems camp. On Sunday, July 6, Miletich was finally inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame by the promotion’s president, Dana White, at the Mandalay Bay convention center during the UFC Fan Expo. Let’s just say, it’s about time.

Miletich joins Royce Gracie, Ken Shamrock, Dan Severn, Randy Couture, Mark Coleman, Chuck Liddell, Charles “Mask” Lewis, Matt Hughes, Tito Ortiz, Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar as the 11th fighter and 12th person overall to receive the honor. While there is no question that being inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame is a true honor for Miletich, it is a bit appalling that it has taken the UFC this long to recognize him for his contributions to the UFC and the sport as a whole.

Miletich won the UFC’s first lightweight tournament (for fighters under 170 pounds) at UFC 16 by defeating Townsend Saunders and Chris Brennan, both in the same evening. Miletich went go on to become the UFC’s first-ever welterweight champion by defeating Mikey Burnett at UFC 17.5. He held the title for over three years and defended the belt on four occasions before losing to Carlos Newton at UFC 31.

After his successful run as a UFC champion, Miletich made an even greater impact on the sport and the UFC through his progeny, fellow UFC Hall of Famer and longtime welterweight champion Matt Hughes, former two-time UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia, former UFC lightweight champion Jens Pulver and former EliteXC middleweight champion Robbie Lawler. You could argue that no single figure in MMA history has helped to shape the sport as much as Miletich.

Yet, Miletich was passed over for induction into the UFC Hall of Fame for over a decade before finally being recognized. Miletich’s long wait highlights a major flaw in the UFC’s Hall of Fame process that damages the legitimacy of the honor.

The Hall of Fame should be the greatest achievement of an athlete’s career, because they are being recognized for their entire body of work. In order to effectively do this, there needs to be a protocol for becoming eligible and a process for determining who gets in and who doesn’t. As it stands right now, the sole authority making those calls is the UFC, and the rules seem to be a little different for everyone. Personal conflicts, such as the one between White and Miletich, have come in the way of a fair selection process.

If the UFC ever wants to have its Hall of Fame taken seriously, the promotion needs to lay out an eligibility guideline and invite various members of the media to be involved in the nomination and voting process. That would give the UFC a selection committee similar to what is utilized by the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame and Pro Football Hall of Fame. With a panel comprised of people who have no direct ties to either the promotion or the fighter, any animosity between a fighter and the UFC brass would be factored out when selecting fighters worthy of induction into the Hall of Fame.

As it stands today, there is no accountability for who is selected and why. Add to that the fact that fighters like Don Frye, Frank Shamrock and Bas Rutten still have yet to be honored for their contributions to the sport, and the UFC Hall of Fame seems more like a novelty than the honor it should be. The UFC always seeks to put its name next to those of the other major sports leagues. Perhaps this is one area where it should model itself after those other respected entities.

About The Author

RJ Gardner
Content Coordinator

RJ Gardner is a rabid sports fan and a long time MMA enthusiast. After watching UFC 1 at ripe old age of 11 RJ was hooked and his passion for the sport has continued to blossom over the years. RJ has been covering MMA since 2007 and has had work featured on Bleacher Report, SI.com, CBSSports.com and UFC.com. RJ is also a Petroleum Transportation Operations Manager during the day.

  • Oh Really

    The UFC Hall of Fame is a joke. It isn’t a HOF, it is Dana White’s friend of the week club. Any HOF featuring Mask and Stephen Bonnar is NOT a real HOF with any type of legitimacy.

    I buy Miletich being an HOFer as a trainer but as a fighter, no. Many people believe he lost that fight with Burnett…but even if you some how think he won, he did lose multiple fights while reigning UFC champ. He went 3-3 before stepping away for 4 years.

    The idea that Miletich made the HOF before Frank Shamrock and Don Frye further shows the HOF is a joke.