The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 14 coaches Michael Bisping and Jason Miller get ready for their FInale fight tonight in Las Vegas. Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images.
Since a lopsided unanimous decision loss to future welterweight deity Georges St. Pierre at UFC 52 back in April 2005, "Mayhem" has competed in more than a half-dozen promotions in far off places, conducted odd "interviews" with Nick Diaz for Elite XC, beatdown bullies on MTV, and sparked bench-clearing brawls on network television, among other tomfoolery, assembling an army of monkeys along the way.
Miller is a certifiable clown outside the cage, which is perhaps one reason UFC and Spike TV executives tapped him to coach opposite Michael Bisping on the set of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 14. But, he also happens to be a rather accomplished mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter, winning the ICON Sport middleweight crown and competing for the same honor for the DREAM and Strikeforce promotions.
Under normal circumstances, Miller would be viewed as a very talented 185-pound fighter who could possibly shake up the UFC's middleweight division with a few solid wins and over-the-top memorable Octagon entrances, too. However, these aren't normal circumstances.
In fact, when he steps inside the eight-walled cage tonight (Dec. 3, 2011) at The Palms in Las Vegas, Nevada, to battle "The Count" for five rounds, he has the opportunity to quickly become an instant contender.
Let's be clear: Even if Miller pulls a Dan Henderson, violently separating Bisping from consciousness with a murderous right hand, he would not be anointed the next number one division contender. Chael Sonnen and Mark Munoz are at the top of the class, as well as Bisping, if he can turn heads this evening.
Bisping has not been torching top-ranked competition, but he has been winning. He's on a three-fight win streak and has won seven of nine fights since moving down from light heavyweight in 2008. Not only has Bisping defeated most of the men the promotion has put before him, which has to count for something, but he's also a very high profile fighter on the UFC's roster.
He's a former TUF winner and the most promising British hope to one day bring back a world championship to the United Kingdom. Bisping is also a lightning rod for criticism, whether it's because of his perceived arrogance, SpitGate or those who feel he's been coddled, the beneficiary of favorable matchmaking -- whatever it is, Bisping generates a visceral response from fans more often than not.
So here he is, telling the world that he could beat Miller without even training and claiming that he -- not Sonnen or Munoz -- is the true top contender in the division. He's been promoting this fight and his place in the division for the world to see on Spike TV, and he has promised to steamroll Miller in "Sin City" and prove it to everyone.
Bisping has set the table. Dinner is ready. Miller now has the opportunity to come into Bisping's town, punch him in the face, eat his food and assume his spot in the divisional pecking order.
That's quite the short trip to sudden relevance. And it's certainly no joke.