You gotta pay to play.
Appearing on a recent edition of The MMA Hour, former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight Champion and current Strikeforce broadcast announcer Pat Miletich says that only fans who pay their cable bills and shell out the coin to purchase the mixed martial arts (MMA) pay-per-views (PPV) have the right to criticize a fighter's performance and that media members should choose their words more carefully.
Miletich was coming to the defense of current Bellator Welterweight Champion Ben Askren after the former NCAA Division-1 wrestling champion received plenty of criticism for the performance that he put on against Douglas Lima at Bellator 64 back on April 6, 2012.
Askren, who upped his MMA record to 10-0 in his unanimous decision victory over "The Phenom," began his MMA career with four consecutive finishes, but his last six wins have all gone the distance and he has received criticism for his lack of finishing fights.
Even UFC President Dana White gave his two cents on what he thought of Askren's performance in true Dana fashion.
Now, the former High School wrestling standout, Miletich, feels that media members should have a more well-rounded view when talking about a fighter's performance and leave the criticizing to the fans.
Make the jump to see what got Askren so worked up, via the The MMA Hour, that he felt the need to challenge the show’s host, Ariel Helwani, to a fight:
"I made a point to watch that fight live because I was really excited about it. Douglas Lima, Ben Askren arguably the most boring title fight of the last three, four years. Boring. And what bothers me most about Ben Askren, he was on the show and he wasn't a particularly good guest, but he was on the show last week, and here's the thing, to come out there and say, 'Hey, this is MMA, if you want to go see striking go watch kickboxing or boxing,' no, actually, this isn't wrestling, Ben, that's the thing. This isn't MMA, what you're doing is wrestling. What guys like Jon Jones, even guys like Georges St. Pierre and guys like Frankie Edgar, they use MMA. But, when you're just going down there to take the guy down and to not do much, I mean, I know he is going for some submissions and he's throwing some punches, but he is really not doing much to try and finish the fight. To me, it's not exciting and Bellator, in my opinion, needs to have at least a talk, they can't do anything, but come on, you're just eliminating these guys and you're not really doing anyone any favors here."
Pat's take on the whole ordeal:
"The fans who pay for the right to watch, they pay their cable bills, they pay their pay-per-views have the right to criticize an athlete because they pay money, on the other hand, and I do understand your point, but at the same time, I was a fighter once and I was a coach for a long time and I understand that the media, you (Helwani) included and me included, make money off of those athletes. So at the same time, you know, I think it is important to remember you can say, and there are ways of wording things, where you can say his style is not aesthetically pleasing to me personally. Although at the same time you can give a lot of credit where credit is due. The fact that he has a limited skill set, he has been working on his striking and obviously working on his jiu-jitsu because he is able to get out of submissions with some very, very technical grapplers. And, you can also point out at the same time, that the level of wrestling in mixed martial arts needs to improve in order to stop a guy like Ben Aksren from controlling them and putting them on their back. I think there needs to be a more well-rounded view."
In a country that stands by freedom of speech, it's hard-pressed to tell someone you can't express your disapproval of something, should you feel the need to do it. In Helwani's defense, he did say that the bout was a two-man game and Lima was unable to stop Ben's onslaught of takedowns.
In MMA, like any other sport, commenting on a fight or fighting style is essentially part of the job, but is critiquing a particular performance, fight and or a game's level of excitement such a crime?
Miletich and Askren seem to think so, how about you?
To listen to the entire interview, click here.