MMA’s Greats of the States | Iowa: Pat Miletich

By Mike Sloan May 1, 2016

Mixed martial artists come from every corner of the globe, bearing a variety of styles. Sometimes, fighters are products of their environment, favoring disciplines prevalent in the country or state from which they hail. Various regions of the United States are considered factories for great fighters, though that certainly is not the case with each state. In this weekly series, the spotlight will shine on the best mixed martial artist of all-time from each of the 50 states. Fighters do not necessarily need to be born in a given state to represent it; they simply need to be associated with it. For example, reigning Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight titleholder Robbie Lawler may have been born in San Diego, but few would recognize him as a Californian.


Though known as “The Croatian Sensation,” Pat Miletich is an Iowan through and through. Born in Davenport, Iowa, Miletich emerged as one of the most influential fighters of his generation and became one of the most successful trainers in MMA history.

The Miletich Fighting Systems camp dominated the sport for years, producing world champions Jens Pulver, Matt Hughes, Tim Sylvia and Robbie Lawler, along with countless other fighters who succeeded at the highest level. Miletich was behind it all.

During his fighting career, Miletich became the first man to capture the Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight title when he was awarded a split decision over Mikey Burnett at UFC 17.5 on Oct. 16, 1998 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. He successfully defended his championship four times before surrendering it to Carlos Newton at UFC 31. Miletich continued to fight into his 40s, closing out his career with a second-round knockout of Thomas Denny at an Adrenaline MMA event in December 2008. He now serves as a color commentator with AXS-TV.

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