Jason "Mayhem" Miller was seemingly born to coach The Ultimate Fighter. Known for his outlandish ring entrances and interviews, Mayhem's is a personality too big to be contained by anything as flimsy as a steel cage. He's crossed over already into the broader entertainment world, hosting the MTV show Bully Beatdown. And that's just the beginning. But while the middleweight star seems well suited to star in Spike's final season of the iconic reality show, to Miller it's not a life changing event. He's been under the bright lights for years - this isn't an introduction as much as it is a culmination of years of hard work building the sport.
"I think (doing The Ultimate Fighter) might boost me up a bit," Miller told MMA Nation's Luke Thomas in an exclusive interview."At the same time, I feel like I brought a lot of people to the sport of mixed martial arts via Bully Beatdown. A lot of people I talk to have never even heard of MMA. Didn't even know what it was. Because they're not privy to the Spike TV's of the world. Because they only have MTV, or at least watch that channel. Suddenly they're thrust into this world with cage fighters doing this art they've never seen before. And they realize it is an art. I feel like I did a lot of education."
While his media star may shine slightly brighter after a season of reality television, it is inside the cage that Miller hopes to reap the most benefits of his TUF gig. He's focused on fighting, not interested in the least in rehashing details of Strikeforce's decline. The past is the past. Beating Michael Bisping is the future.
"I hope it shoots me right to a title shot. That's why I'm doing this damn job. I want some gold strapped around my waist... For my career as a fighter, this will be tremendous," Miller told Luke Thomas in an exclusive interview. "Now I get to fight Michael (Bisping) which is a favorable matchup for me. Not only that - for ten weeks you get to see me and how I coach, how I care about the fight game. You get to see it up close and intense in a documentary format."
Bisping, of course, is no stranger to The Ultimate Fighter. He's the first three time star of the show, having won the third season and coached against Dan Henderson in the lead up to UFC 100 in 2009. The British star knows exactly how to work the cameras and make the most of the opportunity. Like for Miller, that's the easy stuff. Bisping is also focused like a laser on champion Anderson Silva. It's a fight Bisping has been seeking for years, always falling just short of a title shot. And it's an opportunity he's afraid is slipping away.
"People are saying 'He's (Silva) cleaned out the middleweight division and should move to light heavyweight," Bisping tells Thomas. "I'm saying 'No, he hasn't cleaned out the middleweight division.' He hasn't fought me and there's probably a couple of guys (he needs to fight)."
Bisping isn't demanding a title shot or claiming Silva is ducking him. He's had opportunities, like his title eliminator against Dan Henderson, and come up wanting.
"You have to earn the right," Bisping said. "I took a bad loss, I built back up. And my time is now. I'm going to beat that joker over there (Editor's Note: Bisping gestures towards Miller) and then I'll get a shot next year, 100 percent."
The stakes are high this season for Bisping and Miller. It goes beyond reality hijinks and entertaining television. Both men are fighting for the highest stakes - a potential UFC title shot. As interesting as the show is bound to be, it's the subsequent fight that will see business really pick up.