The finale for the fourteenth season of the Ultimate Fighter is set to grace our television sets on Saturday night, and with that grand SpikeTV exit (no more TUF on SpikeTV!) comes a marquee matchup between TUF 14 coaches extraordinaire Michael Bisping and Jason “Mayhem” Miller. Now, everyone in the TUF Generation knows “The Count” – he won TUF 3, coached a season of the reality TV show opposite Dan Henderson, and is so beloved outside the cage that fans pelt him with rocks and garbage whenever they see him in public. But Mayhem… what did he do again? Ha, fear not, my uninformed friend, because here’s a nice little primer on “Mr. Wacky-Zany Character Guy” (as Bisping called him in this season’s sixth episode). You might be surprised to learn that before his stint as Chief Riot Starter in Strikeforce and host of MTV’s “Bully Beatdown”, he ruled the Hawaiian circuit with an iron fist, and once fought Georges St. Pierre when the Canadian was still a young doe-eyed kid coming up in the Octagon. Or maybe you won’t be surprised. I don’t know. Just read on.
-Mixing aggressive jiu-jitsu (he has a black belt) with Muay Thai, Mayhem is one of those “go for it” kinds of fighters who doesn’t wait for openings as much as he tries to create them. This, plus the fact that he’s not afraid to pause while in a dominant position and mug for the crowd, has endeared him to fans since about when his career began ten years ago. (The whole mugging thing has also ended up creating more than a few instances of post-fight turmoil, but hey, that’s Hawaii for you.)
-In 2004, Mayhem schooled Hawaiian fighter Ron Jhun so deftly on the ground in a Superbrawl championship bout that Joe Silva invited him to the UFC. There, Miller took on St. Pierre, who was considered an up-and-comer in the welterweight division at the time. The fight went the distance and Mayhem got his ass kicked throughout, but even when he was beaten and bloody he was still grinning at the crowd.
-After that venture into the Octagon, Miller returned to the minor leagues and pretty much submitted everyone (including Robbie Lawler) for the next year and a half – a feat that earned him an Icon Sport championship title. Frank Trigg out-struck him when they clashed, though, and when Miller fell stunned to the canvas, Trigg absconded with the middleweight belt and that was that.
-Mayhem’s next loss was about a year and a half later, and it came via decision at the hands of Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza at a DREAM event in Japan. They eventually rematched, although that one ended with a “no contest” after Miller inadvertently punted the Brazilian in the dome and Souza couldn’t continue.
-For racking up wins over the likes of Denis Kang, Egan Inoue, Falaniko Vitale, Robbie Lawler and Tim Kennedy, the big question mark that’s always hung over Miller’s head was something along of the lines of “Why isn’t this badass fighter in the UFC?” and that talk persisted even after his loss to St. Pierre. But the always-grinning, always-wise-cracking Georgia native has done well for himself outside of the Octagon, and when Jake Shields needed an opponent for the vacant Strikeforce middleweight strap back in 2009, few objected when Mayhem got the slot. And sure, Shields pretty much controlled him on the ground, but there was the briefest moments in Round 3 of their five-rounder when Miller very nearly had Shields tapping to a rear naked choke. Bottom line: the dude’s got skills.