It’s inevitable: when Jason “Mayhem” Miller is preparing for a fight, people are going to ask what he has planned for his entrance (see below).
It’s a fair question. Long known as one of the more entertaining fighters in the sport, Miller’s entrances have become the stuff of YouTube legend. Combing his effusive personality with scores of choreographed dancers, Miller’s ring entrances are often the highlight of any card.
My efforts to get Mayhem to spill the beans are in vain. He’s not budging.
“It’s always a secret and I always just bust it out. Everybody always asks, but I’m never going to tell,” says Miller. “I don’t want it out there. I even get pissed off when people try to take pictures of me while I’m rehearsing. I get fired up.”
I ask Miller if the entrance will be influenced by country music. We are in Nashville, after all, the home of the country music industry. It seems fitting.
“Nah, man. Nothing like that. I did buy a sweet cowboy hat, but I’m saving that for the pool parties in Vegas,” says Miller with a laugh. “The cowboy hat is an underutilized piece of Americana. I did find a store where they sell those shirts that are made from American flags. Didn’t our forefathers specifically say that you can’t make clothes from the flag? But we’re in the country, so I guess you’re allowed to do that.”
Typical entrances consist of a fighter walking to the cage to a hard rock or rap song. Why, then, does Mayhem go the extra mile? And how much time does he spend planning and practicing the sometimes-elaborate production?
“It depends on how big the fight is and how big the show is. I think the paying customer deserves a show, and I’m going to give them one,” says Miller.
Miller is a born entertainer, a rare fighter with a bold personality big enough to translate to success outside of the MMA world. His role as host on MTV’s “Bully Beatdown” has turned him into an icon for teenagers. He’s no Justin Bieber, but Miller says that the fame has definitely impacted his life.
“If I’m around a certain target demographic, I can’t even walk down the street. It’s annoying. I think I’ve gotten a bad rep for being somewhat of a dick recently, you know? But if you couldn’t walk down the street without six sixteen year-olds following you around, I think you would start to give people the cold shoulder too,” says Miller. “It’s hard to keep giving the smiley face to people when you keep getting tackled. I just want to get something to eat. I’m not trying to be a Hollywood d-bag, I just want to get a plate of chicken.”
Mayhem insists that his expanding Hollywood profile isn’t interfering with his fighting career. After his fight with Jake Shields, Miller told the Strikeforce brass that he wanted to participate on the next card. He never heard back from them, so he continued training, preparing for his next bout — whenever it came.
Two weeks ago, it finally came. Miller will face Tennessee native Tim Stout on Saturday, and he’s well aware that he might not be the crowd favorite going into the fight. He’s fine with it. “I don’t give a damn. I hope I get booed,” says Miller. “As long as they’re not booing during the fight, I’m happy.”
Miller gives off the impression that he’s a carefree individual who fights simply for the love of fighting. That’s true, to an extent, but Miller maintains that he has goals reaching far above simply appearing on a preliminary card against a journeyman fighter.
“Here’s what I’m looking to in Strikeforce: I really want to fight for the belt again. I messed up in my title fight with Jake,” says Miller. “I just barely missed it because I wasn’t correctly prepared. I think I’ve worked out the kinks now.”
Another shot at the belt would mean facing either Dan Henderson or Jake Shields, the two fighters who meet for the belt in the main event of Saturday’s card. And while Miller says he has friendships with both men, he’s not going to let them prevent him from reaching his championship aspirations.
“I’d love to fight the winner. I’ve trained with Dan for many years, and he’s a friend. Jake is a friend too,” says Miller. “I respect both of those guys, but I want to be the title holder. I want my title.”