Despite legions of fans, a cable TV following from his MTV series “Bully Beatdown,” over 200,000 “Mayhem monkeys” following him on Twitter, a stint as coach on the previous season of “The Ultimate Fighter” and a slot fighting on the televised undercard of Saturday’s UFC 146 in Las Vegas, Jason “Mayhem” Miller is a man with his back against the wall. Such is the world of mixed martial arts, where one exceedingly bad performance can move you from the bright lights to the unemployment line.
Watch Jason (Mayhem) Miller take on C.B. Dollaway as one of four live UFC 146 preliminary fights on Sportsnet, starting at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT.
Miller is an MMA promoter’s dream, a colourful figure in both personality and hairstyle choice and always ready with a quip for the media. His “Bully Beatdown” show made him a legitimate celebrity to fans of the MTV network, home of such highbrow fare as “Jersey Shore.” He also was riding a wave of hype from his Strikeforce post-fight brawl with the Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu team, which was televised live on CBS and some say was responsible for the network axing Strikeforce from its programming. Like him or hate him, MMA fans around the world know the name “Mayhem.”
He also has a legitimate MMA pedigree, scoring wins over such notables as Denis Kang, Ronald (Machine Gun) Jhun, Robbie Lawler, Tim Kennedy and the legendary Kazushi Sakuraba. Miller was considered by some to be the “lost middleweight” of this generation of the sport, keeping himself busy with outside ventures and never staying in one organization long enough to see how he would truly stack up against the elite middleweights of the world.
It was this fanfare and more that surrounded Miller as he entered the UFC last year. The promotion, no doubt looking to capitalize on Miller’s TV fame, cast him against perennial antagonist Michael Bisping as coaches on their flagship reality show. The show itself came off well for both individuals, with Bisping playing his arrogant bad guy character to a “tee” opposite Mayhem’s fun-loving, wacky side. Viewers enjoyed the rivalry between the two to the point where 3.5 million of them tuned in to the Bisping-Miller fight on the TUF 14 finale, some of the best numbers Spike had for the TUF finale in years.
As soon as Miller stepped into the cage however, his value to the UFC plummeted.
Whether it was nerves or poor cardio, Miller gassed early in the fight against Bisping and spent the next two rounds being used as a punching bag for the man known as “The Count,” before succumbing to a knee to the body and being finished off by punches in the third. Miller admitted being extremely disappointed in his performance, but no one was more critical than UFC president Dana White.
White tore into Miller in the post-fight press conference and in the following days, calling Miller’s performance, “the weirdest thing I have ever seen in my life,” and comparing Miller’s stand-up to “girls from Tae Bo.” White openly wondered whether Miller would return to the UFC.
No doubt egged on by the “Mayhem monkeys” who sent him non-stop messages on twitter, White eventually relented and gave Miller one more chance on the preliminary portion of this weekend’s UFC 146 pay-per-view. The bout sees him pitted against former TUF alumnus C.B. Dollaway, who has a reputation of tapping to submission holds and then denying it afterwards.
The fight should play into a submission expert like Miller’s hands, as opposed to placing him against another fighter with striking as good or as polished as Bisping’s. Miller must be cognisant of the consequences of a poor performance, although in true “Mayhem” fashion he has gleefully told the media that, “I am looking past CB Dolloway, because I am going to beat him.”
One wouldn’t expect anything less from a Miller quote, but in a sign that he understands the seriousness of the implications of the fight, he has taken up with Reign Training Center in California, home of middleweight contender Mark (The Filipino Wrecking Machine) Munoz and UFC veteran Krzysztof (The Polish Experiment) Soszynski. There he has redefined his training and his commitment to the sport.
The only way for Miller now to get UFC fans to believe the hype is to have his hand raised against Dollaway, or at the very least, put on a Fight of the Night-worthy performance. Because for all his colourful quotes, no one knows more than Miller that an unimpressive performance Saturday night will mean a pink slip from Dana and a one-way ticket to tryouts for the next season of “Jersey Shore.”
Carlin Bardsley is a writer for MMASucka.com and the host of a daily MMA radio show on NextSportStar.com.