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Pat Miletich Should Tone Down the Shilling on Showtime

Pat Miletich is the best broadcaster in mixed martial arts at recognizing the action in the cage and explaining it in a way that's accessible to fans. There's no one as good as Miletich, a former UFC champ, at taking his experience as a fighter and applying it as a broadcaster.

That's why it's so disappointing that Miletich does so much to destroy his own credibility by shilling for the Strikeforce product, offering blatantly dishonest analysis designed to make Strikeforce fights and fighters sound better than they are.

Miletich's technical analysis was on display Friday night on the Strikeforce Challengers broadcast on Showtime, at least when there was good action in the cage for Miletich to analyze. Unfortunately, the rest of the time, Miletich overstated the quality of the fights and the fighters.

The first round of the first fight on Showtime featured Rhadi Ferguson looking fairly mediocre against John Richard, an opponent who came into the fight with a career 1-1 pro record. But instead of acknowledging Ferguson's limitations, Miletich resorted to cliches.

"When you get on top it's time to lay down the hammer," Miletich said during a replay between rounds. "That's exactly what Ferguson did. You can see the fire in his eyes. He's definitely determined to put a hurtin' on him."

When you hear someone as capable of technical analysis as Miletich resorting to "lay down the hammer," "fire in his eyes" and "put a hurtin' on him," you know you're not seeing a technically good mixed martial arts competition.

Miletich frequently overstates the qualities of the fighters. Friday night's main event fighter Tyron Woodley is, according to Miletich, "the best athlete, all-around athlete, to get into MMA," and "not the No. 1 fighter in the world yet, but he's quickly rising." Woodley's opponent, Tarec Saffiedine, is "one of the absolute best pure strikers in the sport of MMA."

Look, Woodley is a good athlete and was a good wrestler in college, but he's not the best athlete in the sport and he's not "quickly rising" toward being the best fighter in MMA. And Saffiedine isn't one of the best pure strikers in MMA. Someone who really is one of the best pure strikers in MMA -- someone like, say, Thiago Alves -- would tear Woodley apart, not lose a decision to him.

When discussing former University of Tennessee special teams standout Ovince St. Preux, Miletich called him, "One of the only guys I've ever seen go from a high level of football into a high level of MMA." It's actually not all that uncommon for football players to give MMA a try, and there are two active UFC fighters, Brendan Schaub and Matt Mitrione, who were much better football players than St. Preux. I don't expect Miletich to mention Schaub and Mitrione, though, because he typically pretends the UFC doesn't exist during Strikeforce broadcasts.

In discussing the upcoming Strikeforce heavyweight tournament, Miletich called it "the best tournament, ever, in the history of MMA, without a doubt." I'm excited for that tournament and hope it goes off without a hitch, but even if it exceeds expectations, it wouldn't be close to the best tournament in MMA history. And at the end of the broadcast, Miletich was asked to identify a dark horse in the eight-man tournament field, and he chose Sergei Kharitonov.

"Kharitonov is the guy," Miletich said. "He just performed really well in K-1. He could come out and hurt some people."

Kharitonov most certainly did not just perform really well in K-1. At last month's K-1 World Grand Prix 2010, Kharitonov was TKO'd in the first round by a mediocre opponent named Singh Jaideep.

If Friday night's show were an anomaly, I'd give Miletich a pass. But he's done it before. During the fight between Josh Thomson and JZ Calvan in October, Miletich said both of them were among the Top 5 lightweights in mixed martial arts. Thomson and JZ are both fine fighters, but no one thinks either of them -- let alone both of them -- is among the Top 5 lightweights in the world. USA Today and SB Nation compile MMA rankings from several different sources into a consensus Top 25, and after the Thomson-JZ fight, those rankings had Thomson as the 16th best lightweight and JZ not even in the Top 25.

Why does Miletich do it? I'm not sure. Maybe Strikeforce and Showtime pressure him to do it. Maybe he loves the sport so much that he gets caught up in the excitement of the fights and overstates things. Maybe he has personal animosity toward the UFC that makes him want to portray Strikeforce as superior.

Whatever the reason, he should stop. Miletich is a good broadcaster. If he ever ceases BS'ing the viewers, he'll be great.

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