Pat Miletich on MMA's refusal to throw in the towel, and why the loss of Strikeforce was so significant

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Midway through UFC 166's heavyweight title fight, as a concussed Junior dos Santos ate heavy punch after heavy punch, unable or unwilling to mount any semblance of defense, Pat Miletich reached the same conclusion as UFC President Dana White -- the fight needed to be stopped.

Regardless referee Herb Dean, cageside physicians, and most questionable of all, dos Santos' corner, all allowed the Brazilian's beating to continue well into the fifth round, leading Miletich to join the chorus wondering why MMA corners are so hesitant to throw in the towel while the practice is widely accepted in boxing.

"God, you know, there's a lot of pride involved," Miletich said on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour.

"A lot of the guys that are cornering these guys, many times are training partners, pretty strong, virile young guys who don't see themselves as vulnerable probably, to be honest with you."

Miletich went on to cite an example of the problem in action at XFC 26, which aired live on AXS TV last weekend with Miletich in the broadcast booth.

"I witnessed a fight Friday night, Roger Carroll getting beat up by Scott Holtzman," Miletich explained. "It was a hell of fight, but Roger Carroll took a -- I can't even count how many elbows he took. His face was swollen shut and there was no use of the fight going on.

"I'd seen enough and I said that on TV. The boys agreed with me, but it wasn't getting stopped. I think it's just a matter of people not -- they care so much about the guy that they want to see him win. I don't know, they're blind at points. Junior dos Santos took a serious ass whopping, and I tend to agree with some people that, yes, that should've been stopped."

The primary concern in situations like dos Santos' is not the immediate danger -- although that definitely plays a part -- but rather, the potential for tremendous amounts of unnecessary damage to negativity impact fighters later in life.

"I think it's already there. I've seen it in guys that I've trained with in the earlier days," Miletich admitted.

"In both boxing and MMA, guys that aren't the same as they were when we were all young. So it's there."

Miletich has been around mixed martial arts long enough to hold a nuanced perspective on the sport's inner workings. The 47-year-old became the inaugural UFC welterweight champion in 1998, defended the belt four times, founded Miletich Fighting Systems -- a camp which at one time produced champions like an assembly line -- then, among other gigs, worked as a commentator to now-defunct Strikeforce.

When Strikeforce dissolved in early-2013, Miletich was struck particularly hard by the loss; not due to any lack of employment opportunities for himself, but rather, he saw it as a disastrous blow to fighters' ability to negotiate a proper income.

"It bothered me, because more than anything else, (the thing that helps) the growth of the sport and the development is athletes having the ability to truly have organizations bid on their talent and make more money for themselves," Miletich said.

"That's where the competition is important. It's healthy, and until that comes back, some sort of organization that could put something together like that, that was a loss for the sport and the athletes, and for the fans, quite frankly."

In the aftermath of Strikeforce's demise, Miletich believes the current MMA landscape leaves much to be desired. The way he sees it, the fighters at the very top of the ladder are getting compensated, but those below them are left to simply fend for themselves.

"There are a lot of places where guys can get their start," Miletich explained. "I think there's a lot of places where guys can gain experience and get their name known out there, to a certain extent, to make themselves marketable to then go on to the UFC.

"But until you have a place that can pay you as well or better than the existing king of the hill, then it's a pyramid and there's no options. There's no options for the athletes. The only reason I say this now is, having been an athlete, having been from the bottom of the ladder to the top, when there are no options, things tend to -- athletes have zero control. And the athletes definitely need control," Miletich said in closing.

"If I'm in the NFL, I have a lot of control because there are several teams, people are going to bid for my services. And that does not exist in this sport."

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