LAS VEGAS - During his pioneering heyday as the UFC's first welterweight champion, Pat Miletich was usually content to let his work in the cage do the talking for him.
So it was only fitting, then, that Miletich's UFC Hall of Fame induction speech was short and sweet. Miletich became the 12th person inducted into the Hall in a Sunday morning ceremony during the UFC Fan Expo at the Mandalay Bay convention center.
"I've got great family and great friends," said Miletich, who won the UFC's first welterweight title in 1998 and defended it until 2001. "I'm honored to be here."
Miletich made his bones in the sport first as one of the greatest fighters of mixed martial arts' early era, then as the head of the premiere camp at the turn of the century, Miletich Fighting Systems in Bettendorf, Iowa. His gym featured fellow Hall of Famer Matt Hughes, Tim Sylvia, Jens Pulver, Robbier Lawler, and Jeremy Horn, among other notables.
"When we bought the company back in 2001, he had the best camp in mixed martial arts," UFC president Dana White said. "At the time we bought the UFC, he had pretty much every champion. He was the champion himself, then Matt Hughes became champion, he came out of his camp. Tim Sylvia was the heavyweight champion. Jens Pulver was the first lightweight champion. The list goes on and on of talent that came out of the Pat Miletich camp."
There was a time when many thought Miletich's entry into the Hall would never come, as Miletich and White had a dispute back in 2005 over the way the UFC handled it's coaching situation for The Ultimate Fighter 3. The UFC had planned to make Miletich and rival Carlos Newton TUF coaches, before pivoting at the last minute to Tito Ortiz and Ken Shamrock.
While Miletich continued to corner his fighters at UFC events, he didn't do business with the company, going on a path which brought him first to the IFL as a fighter/coach, then into a commentating role which has taken him from Showtime to AXS TV, his current gig.
"There was this rumor that there was this huge falling out between Pat Miletich in the UFC," White said Sunday. "Not really true. Pat Miletich was very pissed at me for a very long time. For season three of The Ultimate Fighter, I called Pat and asked him if he would coach that season of The Ultimate Fighter with Carlos Newton, and he accepted and wanted to do it. Then things started to happen with Ken Shamrock and Tito Ortiz and up coaching that season, and I didn't handle things the right way. I apologize to Pat, Pat was pretty upset about it. I definitely handled it the wrong way. This guy's been a legend of the sport for a long time."
Miletich, for his part, didn't address the controversy, and instead choose to focus on where the sport was during the dark days and where it's gotten to in 2014.
"I'm very humbled by the way Dana's handled this whole business," said Miletich, who finished his career with a documented record of 29-7-2. "There was a time in this sport, when people who have been around for a lot of years could tell you, this sport had one foot in the grave and another on a banana peel. You've got to give credit where credit is due. Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta and Dana White have taken this sport, none of us would be there without these guys. I truly appreciate that. Also, we should thank the Gracie family, they're the ones who brought us this sport."
Miletich became the 12th UFC Hall inductee, joining Royce Gracie, Ken Shamrock, Dan Severn, Randy Couture, Mark Coleman, Chuck Liddell, Charles "Mask" Lewis, Hughes, Tito Ortiz, Forrest Griffin, and Stephan Bonnar.