Jason Miller, who I had first met in Temecula, had manufactured his own celebrity with a combination of hard work and marketing savvy. Miller guided his own destiny as much as any mixed martial artist I ever met and was ahead of the game in the way he used social media to cultivate his fan base. He’d started out building a huge following on MySpace he called Mayhem Monkeys which he then seg-wayed over to Facebook. He had a gazillion people following him on Twitter, had a radio show on Sirius, his articles for Fight! were some of the most popular articles in the magazine and he even hosted a Reality TV show called Bully Beatdown on MTV for a while. With his tough but ugly fighting style he was really more of a celebrity than a top fighter but he was always in shape, never gave up and, considering the fact that he was far from the most talented fighter in the world and had become successful outside of the UFC, I always viewed his success as an impressive act of determination. Miller was the game’s premier hustler and I’ve always had a soft spot for hustlers.
The last time I saw him fight live was in Nashville Tennessee. I was sitting with a group of businesspeople that were dipping their toes in the sport.
“Believe it or not, that guy is actually pretty smart,” I said to a money manager sitting behind me. That night MMA had gotten another shot at network television, this time with StrikeForce, run by a longtime martial arts promoter named Scott Coker. The arena was half empty as I pointed to Mayhem who had just steamrolled a tomato can.