On Saturday night Jason “Mayhem” Miller will get his chance to fight for a title on network TV in front of an American audience that might only recognize him as the “Bully Beatdown” guy. He’s just fine with that, but damn if he can figure out why Jake Shields is the betting favorite in this fight. I spoke with Miller for an SI.com feature earlier this week, and, as usual, he was at no loss for words. On every topic from Shields’ stand-up game to medication and cliff notes, “Mayhem” has an opinion. He’d like to go ahead and share them with you, if you don’t mind.
BF: First off, I have a bone to pick with you.
JM: What did you just call me?
We met this summer at UFC 100 when the whole Fight Magazine crew was hanging out in Vegas, and you and I had what I thought was a pleasant conversation. Then I read your column in Fight the next month and you referred to that specific conversation while referring to me as a “chisel-faced zombie.”
Well, are you?
I guess I have kind of a square head, but zombie?
Hell man, I don’t know. Maybe. If the shoe fits.
Okay, fair enough. Let’s talk about your fight. Last time I checked, Shields was a pretty heavy favorite against you.
Yeah, I know. I’m shocked. I really am. But he’s on a pretty good streak, so I guess I understand.
Obviously that’s because people think his ground game is just that good. Are you banking on your takedown defense being strong enough to negate that?
That, and I’m good enough on the ground to not only survive, but to turn the tables and submit him. I’m good enough, but people have yet to see it.
People have yet to see it because you haven’t fought much in front of an American audience. How big an opportunity is it for you to fight on CBS?
Obviously, it’s massive. Any time you get to fight in front of a boatload of people, it’s huge for your fight career. I just want to make the most of the opportunity that I’m getting here.
CBS doesn’t really seem to be advertising or pushing anything but the Fedor/Rogers fight, though.
I know! You’re telling me, man. I don’t know if they see my value yet. I don’t know if they realize that a lot of people watch “Bully Beatdown” and that would be great for them to grab that younger audience and say, ‘Hey, you know that funny guy from “Bully Beatdown”? He’s fighting this other guy from “Bully Beatdown.”’ But they’re not doing it for whatever reason. You know, I don’t sit around in the marketing room, so they’re not listening to me. But I think they should be doing it.
Do you think the network just doesn’t see that angle somehow, or do they not care?
I’m not sure if the network is actually paying that much attention to this. I think that maybe they just said, ‘Here’s a little bit of money, and if it does well then we’ll pay attention.’ Maybe it’s one of those things. But I don’t understand the logic of only pushing the Fedor fight. Maybe they’re banking on the strength of being able to say they have the number one heavyweight in the world. I don’t know. I’m just a monkey. They throw peanuts at me and I dance.
Do you think there are more people now who just know you as the host of “Bully Beatdown” instead of as an actual fighter?
Maybe, but that’s fine. I don’t have an ego about that. I’m not going to get hurt if everyone just thinks I’m the “Bully Beatdown” guy. That’s just how it is. If you go and hop on a project like that and you get a lot of fame for it, that’s part of the package. But that doesn’t matter to me what people think. If they actually watch me fight they’ll see that not only can I crack people up, I can crack somebody’s head open.
Do you think your future as a fighter is in the
We’ll see after Saturday, but I definitely have a love for
You don’t think Americans have a respect for it?
The fanbase that’s here, yeah, they understand the sport and love it. But the general public, I don’t know what they understand. When I’m in the cheap seats at the UFC I still hear guys shouting, ‘Poke ‘em in the eye!’
But “Bully Beatdown” must be helping to teach something about MMA to a broader audience.
Yeah, absolutely. “Bully Beatdown” is helping to build a new MMA audience. Young kids are learning about the sport through “Bully Beatdown.” And of course the UFC has exerted an influence on the culture now. It’s become a part of the culture. But in
Fighting on network TV, for a championship, do you think you’ll have more nerves for this fight ?
Nerves? Man, I don’t get nerves. I get excited, yeah, but why get nervous? I live for this. I love to do this job. I see other fighters and they get scared. I don’t understand that.
Well, you seem pretty different from other fighters in general. It seems like you’re always doing something crazy. Is that how you always are, or is that when the cameras come on?
That’s just how I am.
How do you do normal things, like go to the bank?
That’s me. I do everything, but in a more exciting manner than you do. It’s not like I can’t get stuff done.
Has anyone ever suggested medication?
What the fuck? How do you know I’m not on meds right now? I might need medication just to keep me from biting your face.
Then by all means, take the medication. I don’t want you biting my face.
Even though you’re a little crazy, you’re also a pretty cerebral guy, which some people might not expect.
Well, I am. Just because somebody talks really fast doesn’t mean they’re stupid. I might be crazy, but I’m not stupid. If people want to dig down the rabbit hole, there’s more to me than just some wacky crazy guy. Just because most of what I say and do is comedic, it doesn’t mean that there’s nothing under there. There is. There’s a lot of layers to this onion.
What have you been reading lately?
Most recently the heavy book I read was “The God Delusion.” It broke down why there’s most likely not a God. It was a good book and pretty easy to digest, even for somebody who gets punched in the head for a living. I like to read a lot of books about psychology. I read this book, “Without Conscience” about psychopaths. I just found a new website called Spark Notes. Man, I’m addicted to that. It’s just cliff notes online. I just bought 1984 and then realized the cliff notes are online for free.
You know that site is made for college students who don’t want to do the assigned reading, right?
That’s all right. I’m a non-college student who doesn’t want to do the reading. I feel like I should be up on some of this old literature, and if I had gone to college I probably would have read the damn book, but I didn’t.
Why do you feel like you need to be up on this literature?
I just feel like I need to learn more and more to increase my worldview. I think every human being should be trying to learn new things and broaden their perspectives. You don’t want to just live in your own little bubble. I’m just amazed that I even get to be alive and be on this earth for a short period of time. I want to learn and experience as much as I can.
What do you think of Jake Shields’ stand-up ability?
He’s an adept kickboxer, but I’m a lot better. That is definitely going to take a heavy toll on him later in the fight. He’s not going to have the punching power as the fight goes on and he’s not going to be able to keep up with me on the feet. At the beginning of every round, he’s got to start there.
A lot of guys, when they go up against a good grappler like him, find that they can’t let their feet and hands go because they’re so worried about getting taken down.
Yeah, but that’s the thing. I’m not really afraid of getting taken down. I’m just not. Even if he takes me down, so what? It’s still a fight after that. It’s not like he’s going to smash me the way he does all the 170-pounders.
I saw the video where you said that this fight needs to be your masterpiece. Did that make you prepare any differently? Did you train harder? Did you put more pressure on yourself?
Yeah, I trained harder. I made adjustments inside the gym to make my techniques sharp. But pressure? No. I don’t put pressure on myself. I just let it come naturally. I do what I like, and that’s what’s going to help me win this fight. I really enjoy what I’m doing.