Miletich Talks WAMMA, Sports Agents, UFC Gyms
Pat Miletich is a legend in the sport of MMA. If the UFC Hall of Fame were a credible one Miletich would surely be mentioned there for his achievements as both a fighter and trainer (just as an aside, any hall that omits Frank Shamrock, Tito Ortiz, and the aforementioned Miletich is going to have problems being taken seriously). Pat recently sat down with SportsAgentBlog to talk about his role with WAMMA as well as a host of other issues, some business related:
Wimsett: What do you think about all the karate dojos advertising “MMA classes” now?
Miletich: It’s kind of funny. It wasn’t that long ago when those guys were telling their students, you can’t go fight MMA, these moves are designed to kill. I find that amusing. But in the long run, it’s probably good. It brings more exposure to the sport. Ultimately, WAMMA and state athletic commissions will need to look at what these dojos are doing and whether there needs to be more regulation so guys don’t get hurt.
Wimsett: What are your thoughts on sports agents entering the MMA space?
Miletich: The innocence of the sport is gone. But, agents are the guys that have the connections to the big sponsor dollars and they’ve negotiated really large contracts so that’s a good thing to have on your side.
Wimsett: Take “fighter X”, in the middle of the pack, does he need an agent?
Miletich: Everyone needs some sort of representation so they don’t get taken advantage of. You need someone who knows what to look for in contracts. Some of these guys have the Nike, Adidas contacts. They can bring more money to the table.
Wimsett: Have you seen the new UFC-branded gyms? Your thoughts.
Miletich: Smart business idea by the UFC. The quality of instruction remains to be seen inside of them. This is a sport where bigger is probably not better. If you can find a hole in the wall gym and learn from a guy who really knows his stuff – that’s a better training environment. But I don’t think those are the guys these branded gyms are really looking for anyway. I think they’re mostly looking for the kids and housewives who just want to get in shape.
Pat makes an excellent point about the role of agents. The moves by the UFC are increasingly having the effect of marginalizing the role of the agent/manager. The Jon Fitch Videogame drama served as a case study for the UFC seeking to place a wedge between the fighters and their representatives, with some like Mike Swick being more than happy to side with the fight company over the guy that has the fiduciary responsibility to look after his best interests. The UFC is also making the job of the agents tougher with their moves to capture a portion of the sponsorship dollars that the fighter receives. MMAPayout.com has received information that the planned move to make a grab at fighter sponsor dollars as mentioned on our site as well as MMAJunkie is moving forward, with longtime sponsors being contacted and informed of the new paradigm, with companies having to pay the UFC for the right to sponsor fighters they already had pre-existing deals with. Strong representation in the form of agents/managers is a needed counterbalance to the fight company to help ensure the rights of the fighter are at least nominally looked after.