Before the bell rang to start the action last night at the Pearl at the Palms in Las Vegas, Jason "Mayhem" Miller seemed like a bonafide star. He carried his end of The Ultimate Fighter with style, matching wits with veteran Michael Bisping on the final season of the Spike show. Miller has mastered the media part of the fight game. He is presence on satellite radio, stars in his own MTV reality show, and generally has a knack for making it into the headlines.
Once the bell rang, that was all out the window. When fists start flying, the ability to string together coherent thoughts stops being so important. Being able to go back and forth with shock jock Jason Ellis? Means nothing when you are being punched in the face.
Last night was a harsh reminder that Jason Miller isn't an elite cage fighter. He put on the worst main event performance of any fighter since Thales Leites embarrassed himself right out of the UFC during a title fight with Anderson Silva. Miller was out of steam in the second round of a five round fight.
Bisping destroyed him on the feet. It was a shocking showing for Miller, a veteran of more than 30 fights. Even before he lost his breath, Miller showed rudimentary standup technique, lazily tossing looping and wild punches that Bisping was able to see coming a mile away.
Miller has taken advantage of fighting outside the UFC to build a record and reputation against less than elite competition. Besides Jake Shields, his opponents have often been either regional standouts or once great fighters past their prime. Miller hasn't fought someone like Bisping in years - and it showed.
The truth is, no one can say for certain where a fighter stands unless he's been in the cage with the very best. "Mayhem" Miller turned out to be an illusion, but it takes fights in the Octagon to shine a light into darkness, to reveal the charade. Last night, the bright lights showed us that Miller isn't a top 10 middleweight in 2011, if he ever was.