Last May, as Jason “Mayhem” Miller struggled against his rugged Japanese opponent Hiromitsu Miura punch for punch, with no warning at all, he let out a Bruce Lee-like scream along with loopy hand gestures as if portraying the martial arts great.
Soon, his opponent joined the Bruce Lee-moment with his own gesticulation.
It was typical Mayhem Miller stuff, and the crowd loved it.
“I try to make everyone have fun,” says Miller. “If you’re not having fun, I feel guilty.”
Antics aside, the former Army brat Miller has also shown that inside a ring or cage he’s a very formidable fighter capable of beating top middleweights.
“I’d like to fight Anderson Silva; he’s the best fighter in my weight class,” says Miller, who trains with Team Quest in Temecula, California. “But I’m not going to fight him anytime soon. He’s the champion, and I really haven’t proven myself.”
That’s why the madcap fighter Miller eagerly departs for Japan to meet Katsuyori Shibata (2-3) at the Saitama Super Arena in Japan this Sunday. It’s the Dream 3 event that will be televised on HDNet at 3 a.m. ET Sunday morning.
He wants to prove he belongs in the upper tier of MMA.
Incidentally, Shibata recently weighed 225 pounds and is dropping down from the heavyweight class to meet Miller at 185.
“He’s coming down. Whatever. I’m willing to take any challenge that’s thrown my way,” said Miller (20-5) as he packed some things before leaving for the airport. “It’s only one man. I didn’t get into this sport to pick and choose opponents and be really safe about it. I don’t do anything really safe.”
It’s that semi-chaotic personality that seems to attract fans to his MySpace.com site that is one of the most populated web locales for any fighter. With his dyed red hairstreak and somewhat maniacal look when he fights, he sort of resembles the Joker from Batman.
People love his wackiness and spontaneous combustion-like personality. It’s engaging.
“People always ask me that,” says Miller about whether his personality is contrived or natural. “That’s just the way I am.”
Inside the training facility in Temecula – located about 100 miles south of Los Angeles –where dozens of elite fighters gather on a daily basis, it’s Miller time all of the time as he jumps into the routine with an explosive vigor that seems to make the others smile.
“Jason brings a training intensity to the gym and a great attitude that is contagious with our other fighters,” says Heath Sims, the general manager for Team Quest.
“It’s an international room with athletes from all over the world as opposed to some schlubs from the bar,” Miller says about training at Team Quest. “There are so many training partners it’s impossible not to get better.”
Sims says that Millers willingness to learn is his key strength.
“He has an open mind to learn new techniques,” Sims says.
Back in 2003, Miller lost to Tim Kennedy via decision. But last December, it was Miller and his new bag of tricks that pulled out a unanimous decision win over the same Kennedy in Dallas.
“In that particular fight I kept the same game plan: wreck the guy, take him down and stay on top of him,” Miller says about his win over Kennedy. “That’s why I won the fight.”
Despite a flamboyant personality that streams inside and out of the fight arena, Miller has a hardcore fighting attitude that doesn’t often show unless you’re in the cage against him or practicing moves on the mat.
The intensity is there and sometimes it’s this trait that could be mistaken for audacity or intentionally mocking an opponent.
“I never mock anybody. I think most fighters understand, dude, that I’m crazy,” he says matter-of-factly. “I don’t know karate but I know crazy.”
The Hollywood resident drives almost daily 200 miles roundtrip to Temecula, California.
Few other pro MMA fighters make such an effort.
“Don’t remind me,” he says. “I’m just waiting for somebody to hand me a reality TV show and a boatload of money.”
That’s not crazy.
MMA on TV
International Fight League championship fights that took place last December will be aired again at midnight on Saturday May 10. Three title fights will be shown on Fox Sports Net including New York’s Jay Hieron vs. Delson Heleno; Wagnney Fabiano vs. L.C. Davis; and Matt Horwich vs. Benji Radach.
Also on Friday, HDNet Fights will show Maximum Fighting Championship at 10:30 p.m. (ET).
Dream 3 will be shown live at 3 am (ET) on Sunday morning on HDNet.
Fights coming up
Thurs. May 8 – Palace Fighting Championships at Tachi Palace in Lemoore, California. (866) 472-5223.
Fri. May 9 – Pure Combat: Bring the Pain at Stockton Memorial Civic Auditorium in Stockton, Calif. (559) 713-4040.
Fri. May 9 – MFC 16: Anger Management at River Cree Casino in Edmonton, Canada. (877) 377-7774.
Sat. May 10 – Cage Rage 26: Extreme at NFC Arena in Birmingham, England.
Sun. May 11 – Dream 3: Lightweight Grand Prix in Saitama Arena in Saitama, Japan.
Video: MMA from NBC Sports
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