Photo via Taro Irei
Jason Miller is a character.
A perfect combination of showman and fighter, the former Strikeforce middleweight title challenger is a welcome and colorful change from the usual "I respect him, it's going to be a good fight"-type blandness that is the norm in mixed martial arts (MMA).
Long before he steps inside the cage/ring, his personality shines through in his pre-fight interviews and in his elaborately choreographed entrances. And once the cage door closes, the jokes stop and the fighting begins. Only seven losses in more than a decade is the legacy "Mayhem" has built for himself.
On the flip side, he's beyond obnoxious. His behavior is often that of a 15-year-old stuck in perpetual adolescence, riding a never-ending sugar high brought on by an endless supply of candy bars and Mountain Dew. His shtick is tired and immature, combining the worst aspects of meathead fraternity jocks and that guy who always takes jokes a little too far.
For someone who runs his mouth constantly, his best win is over Robbie Lawler five years ago and he's best known for getting laid on by Jake Shields for 25 minutes. His entrances? They're just pale imitations of Genki Sudo. Who is Jason Miller?
The truth is he's a little from column A and a little from column B. Depending on your point of view, "Mayhem" may be one of the best entertainers in MMA or a fighter who has skated by more on personality than actual talent. Then there are some who haven't decided what to make of the former "Bully Beatdown" host. The good news is that this Saturday (Dec. 3, 2011) will help form their opinions.
That's when he steps inside the Octagon for only the second time in his career to take on rival The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 14 coach Michael Bisping in the show's traditional season-ending showdown. While the TUF 14 Finale will end up crowning the first bantam and featherweight champions in the show's history, many will tune in to see the cocky, loudmouth Briton take on the cocky, loudmouth American.
For Miller, it's his first fight in more than one year. The last time he squared off with someone, he stood opposite Japanese MMA legend Kazushi Sakuraba. Inside of a DREAM ring, "Mayhem" accomplished something that had never been done before in a legitimate MMA contest.
What'd he do? You have to keep reading to find out!
For Miller, it wasn't an opportunity to fight "The Gracie Hunter" so much as it was an honor. He idolized the Japanese fighter, but made sure to announce his intentions of being the first man to ever make Sakuraba tap.
When the opening bell sounds, Miller immediately takes the center of the ring, forcing his opponent to circle the outside. Sakuraba opens up with a cross that misses its mark and gets backed into a corner. Miller closes the distance, eating a punch on the way in.
Like his fellow middleweight Chris Leben would say, "Mayhem" takes one to deliver a couple of his own. He grabs the Japanese fighter by the back of the head and barrels a Muay Thai knee straight into Sakuraba's skull before "The Gracie Hunter" is able to break free and circle away.
The size difference is definitely noticeable early on as the American towers over his opponent. Sakuraba finds it difficult to connect with any punches as he's forced to nearly dive toward Miller every time he strikes. One such instance sees "Mayhem" deliver a counter flying knee that drills itself into Sakuraba's ribcage.
"The Gracie Hunter" follows up with a takedown attempt that is easily stuffed and the Japanese fighter immediately turns onto his back, inviting Miller into his guard. "Mayhem" stands over him, delivering a trio of punches while Sakuraba grabs onto a leg. Firmly grasped, the Japanese fighter begins to work towards a submission but it's defended nearly perfectly by Miller who ends up on his opponent's back in the ensuing scramble.
Punches begin to rain down and all Sakuraba can do is try to block them. Miller takes this opportunity to give a little shout out to all of his fans -- Monkeys he calls them -- in a moment that just about sums him up perfectly. If you enjoyed his impromptu peace sign flashing, you likely consider yourself a "Mayhem Monkey" and if you didn't, you probably didn't like Miller to begin with.
Turning onto his back to avoid more punches, "The Gracie Hunter" actually puts himself in a worse position. Miller begins to deliver more punches -- these with more power -- on the increasingly desperate Japanese fighter. The legend attempts to turn away, ending up on his side and this is where "Mayhem" strikes.
Catching Sakuraba's shoulder and head in his grasp, Miller secures an arm-triangle choke and as he hops his legs over to his opponent's side, his grip tightens and "The Gracie Hunter" has no option -- beyond going unconscious -- other than to tap out. A respectful Miller stands up and bows to his hero, still laid out on the mat.
Miller said he wanted to come home with a submission win and ended up doing so in the most impressive way possible. He completely dominated the fight and secured the tap in a little over two minutes.
Will he do the same in roughly 48 hours? Or will his second fight in the UFC go as well -- read: poorly -- as his first? "Mayhem" has some impressive names on his resume. Frank Trigg, Robbie Lawler, Tim Kennedy, Georges St. Pierre and Jake Shields are among them. Some of those men he defeated, some he came up short against.
Where will Michael Bisping's name fall on that list?