The 411 MMA Top 10 7.21.14: Top 10 Pat Miletich Guys
Posted by Alex Rella on 07.21.2014
From Matt Hughes and Rich Franklin to Jens Pulver, Tim Sylvia, Robbie Lawler and more, 411ís Alex Rella breaks down his top 10 guys who trained under Pat Miletich!
Hey there readers, I am Alex Rella and this is another riveting edition of the MMA Top Ten. This week we will be looking at the top ten Pat Miletich guys. The former UFC champion retired back in 2008 with a 29-7-2 record and he was recently inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame. I wanted to do something to acknowledge this great accomplishment, but I haven't seen enough of his non-UFC fights to properly give him his own top ten list. So instead we're going to look at all the fighters to ever train at Miletich Fighting Systems. One of the greatest fighting camps of all time, it produced multiple champs in all different weight classes. The fighters are ranked based on the accomplishments of their careers with things like titles, records, who they've beaten, impact on the sport, and some of my personal opinion.
Top Ten Pat Miletich Guys
Bart Palaszewski : 36-17
Ian Freeman : 20-7-1
Josh Neer: 35-15-1
10: Ben Rothwell
The star of the Quad City Silverbacks starts the week off at number ten. Ben Rothwell started training at Miletich Fighting Systems in the spring of 2004. Rothwell had a respectable 16-4 record before then, but he went on the best stretch of his career under Miletich's tutelage. From late 2005 to 2007 Rothwell went on a really nice thirteen fight winning streak. This included a 9-0 run in the IFL as he fought on Miletich's team. He was the company's best fighter beating guys like Krzysztof Soszynski, Devin Cole, Travis Fulton, Roy Nelson, and former UFC heavyweight champion Ricco Rodriguez before he was washed up. Rothwell is only 4-4 since leaving the IFL, but he's still a tough heavyweight and he has a big fight coming up in September against Alistair Overeem.
9: Spencer Fisher
Spencer Fisher currently owns his own camp called Team Evolution, but he spent much of his career as a member of Miletich Fighting Systems. I did a top ten for Fisher a few months (go back and read it, it was awesome) and while he was never an elite fighter, Fisher was one of the most entertaining lightweights in the UFC for years. The King retired back in 2012 with a 24-9 record. He'll always be remembered for his amazing trilogy with Sam Stout, but Fisher has other wins over tough fighters like Caol Uno, Jeremy Stephens, Dan Lauzon, Matt Wiman, and Thiago Alves. There were talks of him returning last summer, but it never happened and it looks like Fisher will stay retired.
8: Barb Honchak
Barb Honchak is the current Invicta flyweight champion and without a doubt the best female fighter at 125 lbs in the world. A genuine genius with degrees in molecular biology, ecology, and genetics, Honchak made her MMA debut back in 2009. Now 9-2 (4-0 in Invicta), Honchak is the most recent champ to come out of Miletich Fighting Systems with victories over Felice Herring, Roxanne Modafferi, Vanessa Porto, and Leslie Smith. Unfortunately while the Little Warrior is one of the best female fighters in the world, she's in the wrong weight class so she may never get to compete in the UFC. The cut down to 115 lbs might be rough at 34 years old and she's a little too small to try bantamweight. Honchak might be the last great fighter to come out of this legendary camp.
7: Jeremy Horn
I think Jeremy Horn has had one of the coolest yet unsung careers in MMA. Horn also runs his own camp called Elite Performance based in Salt Lake City, but he spent most of his career training in Iowa with the rest of the Miletich crew. Arguably one of the best grapplers/submission artists of all time, sixty two of Horn's ninety victories have come by way of submission. A two time number one contender in the UFC, Horn has competed almost everywhere else too with fights in Pride, IFL, WEC, Pancrase, KOTC, and Bellator. Throw in wins over guys like Chael Sonnen, Forrest Griffin, Josh Burkman, and Chuck Liddell and you have a great career that's still going.
6: Jens Pulver
Placing Jens Pulver on any list is a little tricky. Weighing the great start of his career against the really poor end of it isn't easy. Pulver's MMA career started in 1999 and he was originally a member of the Lion's Den. Pulver respected Bob Shamrock so much that he even wanted to change his last name to Shamrock, but he would eventually have to switch over to Miletich Fighting Systems because he was too small and didn't have the proper training partners at the Lion's Den. Pulver defeated Caol Uno to become the UFC's first lightweight champion and he would defend the title against Dennis Hallman and BJ Penn. He struggled to find the same success after leaving the UFC in 2002, but he was the best lightweight in the world for a couple years. He would have a resurgence of sorts when he unsuccessfully challenged Urijah Faber for the WEC featherweight title in a really great fight, but he dropped off dramatically after that. It would get to the point that you would just cringe when you heard he was still fighting and hope he wouldn't get knocked out. Luckily he just retired and I'll likely be giving him his own list pretty soon.
5: Robbie Lawler
Robbie Lawler's career resurgence since returning to the UFC has been one of my favorite things to watch since becoming an MMA fan. He has an awesome number one contender fight coming up against Matt Brown and I think he could beat Johny Hendricks in a rematch. Ruthless Robbie Lawler is now a truly elite fighter after years of just being that exciting kinda above average fighter. Lawler started training with Miletich at only 16 years old and would remain with the camp until he left with Matt Hughes in 2007 to form the H.I.T. Squad. The former EliteXC middleweight champion is now a member of American Top Team. His fight this weekend is going to be amazing and I will never been more torn as a fan watching two of my all time favorite guys fight.
4: Tim Sylvia
Everybody likes to crap on Tim Sylvia today and a good amount of it is deserved, but the guy was at the top of the heavyweight division for years. A huge heavyweight at 6'8, Sylvia trained with Miletich from 2001-09 and this was easily the best stretch of his career. During this time Sylvia became a two time UFC heavyweight champion with wins over guys like Ben Rothwell, Ricco Rodriguez, Jeff Monson, Brandon Vera, and Andrei Arlovski. Things haven't been going too well for Sylvia in recent years as he hasn't won since 2012 and it looks like his career is coming to an end at 38, but you can't take away his past accomplishments.
3: Pat Miletich
Pat Miletich himself comes in at number three. I'm really glad he got into the UFC Hall of Fame cause he was kinda forgotten about for a couple years, but he was one of the top fighters in the UFC before Zuffa. He was one of the first great champions of the sport and one of the first fighters that could really be considered a true mixed martial artist. Miletich won the UFC 16 lightweight tournament (170 lbs) and became the UFC's first welterweight champion at UFC Brazil (also known as UFC 17.5). In between this, he had a catchweight fight with Dan Severn which I would really like to see. Miletich defended his title four times before losing to Carlos Newton at UFC 31. But while he was champ, Miletich was still fighting in other companies and not always having the same success. He attempted to move to middleweight after his protégé Matt Hughes won the title, but this was unsuccessful. Milietich took a few years off to heal up and coach full time. He fought twice more in 2006 and 2008 going 1-1.
2: Rich Franklin
Not only is he the second best middleweight of all time in my opinion, Rich Franklin is number two on this list as well. Ace has also spent a good amount of his career competing at light heavyweight, but he was at his best competing at 185 lbs. The UFC's first great middleweight champion won the title from Evan Tanner at UFC 53. This was a good fight that was stopped by the doctor's in the fourth round. Franklin held onto the title for 437 days that included two title defenses. He made quick work of Nate Quarry at UFC 56 and completely dominated David Loiseau over five rounds at UFC 58. Then Anderson Silva came into the UFC and had to ruin his run with the belt. Silva beat him at UFC 64, but Franklin worked his way back to title contention with consecutive wins over Jason MacDonald and Yushin Okami. Their second fight was better than the first, but it ended the same way. Throw in victories over Ken Shamrock, Wanderlei Silva, and Chuck Liddell and you have a truly legendary career. Now he's the VP of One FC, Franklin said he wants to fight one more time and I really hope he can be one of the few guys to walk away on a win.
1: Matt Hughes
Coming in at number one is my all time favorite fighter and the clear choice for the top spot on this week's list. Matt Hughes is a two time UFC welterweight champion and a pioneer in the early Zuffa days. Matt Hughes started competing in 1998 after graduating college. Soon after he joined Miletich Fighting Systems and gained immediate success. Hughes debuted in the UFC in 1999 at UFC 22 but was released at UFC 29 after his second loss to Dennis Hallman. Hughes would force his way back when he returned at UFC 34 to defeat Carlos Newton for the welterweight title. Hughes defended his title five times before BJ Penn upset him at UFC 46. Hughes gained the title back at UFC 50 when he was the first person to defeat GSP. Hughes' second title reign was almost as good as his first as he had the great rematch with Trigg, wrecked Royce Gracie and avenged his loss to BJ Penn. Unfortunately for Hughes, GSP passed him by when they met a second time at UFC 65 and the third time at UFC 79. Hughes went 3-3 in his last six fights and while he got knocked out in the last two, the end of his career wasn't as bad as other aging legends. I miss when all these guys were at the top of the sport.
So let me know how you guys would rank them or maybe I left a fighter out that you thought should be in the top 10.
As always, let me know if there are any topics or fighters you would like to see ranked in the future.