This past season of the Ultimate Fighter was historic for a few reasons including it being the last on Spike TV before the series switches over to FX in 2012, the competitors vying for bantamweight/featherweight glory, and fans having the opportunity to vote for their favorite finishes and fight with the winners receiving a chunk of cash for the distinction.
Also unique to TUF 14, Jason Miller earned his spot as one of the head coaches based on his accomplishments outside of the UFC and, for the most part, outside of the cage as well. By giving Miller an opportunity most fighters would kill for based on the exposure involved let alone the money, the UFC reinforced the notion entertainment value is more important than in-ring performance.
You see, while “Mayhem” has a world-class personality, his accomplishments in MMA don’t measure up on the same level. His record over the last three years is 4-2 with the four wins coming against relative nobodies plus Kazushi Sakuraba whose best days as a fighter are but a speck in the sport’s proverbial rear-view mirror. Even when considering Miller’s mismanagement at the hands of Strikeforce, looking back at his career as a whole, the 30-year old has a handful of victories over respectable opponents (Tim Kennedy, Robbie Lawler) but far more coming against journeymen bordering on tomato cans. Miller is solid without question but he’s never proven himself to be close to elite.
However, rather than consider his record over the past few years the UFC put a premium on his Bully Beatdown fame and over-the-top antics in general. They knew Miller would make for “good TV”, an understandable motive to an extent until considering the overall message being sent. If Miller beats Michael Bisping this weekend he will be on a fast-track to a UFC title-fight, and not because he’s done anything significant in the ring but because he knows how to cut a promo. It worked for Chael Sonnen and so it shall for Miller too.
The next time you wonder why your favorite fighter gets passed over despite having a great record and some major wins in the UFC, think about Miller, and then find yourself a Mixed Martial Artist who is zany and outspoken. Chances are he’ll be going for that gold sooner than you might think.
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