Don’t be surprised if international space station pilots circling the planet at night this week noticed Milan appeared a bit more colorful and quirky after the Italian arrival of Orange County’s mixed martial arts (MMA) superstar Jason “Mayhem” Miller.
For the last several years, Miller’s interactions with law enforcement have landed him in a Southern California jail facing assorted, unresolved criminal charges and in unflattering mainstream newspaper articles that come close to portraying the Mission Viejo resident as a candidate for a mental hospital.
But the onetime MMA champion and MTV show host with an international fan base has traded one cage, the Orange County Jail, for a more satisfying setting: a cage at promoter Frank Merenda’s May 21 Venator Fighting Championship 3.
In the fight’s co-main event, Miller (23-9) will battle British middleweight Luke Barnatt (10-3), who is, at 28, seven years younger and, at 6-foot-6, five inches taller.
Barnatt has also not hidden his contempt for his flashier opponent, a move that surely motivated the stocky North Carolina native, an innately powerful man nobody sane would want to enrage in an alley, during the last two months of intense training.
At a pre-fight press conference, Miller acknowledged Barnatt “has some physical gifts” and “some good technique,” but concluded he “has a lot of holes in his game” too.
Employing his trademark wild facial expressions and tough guy demeanor that belie his kindness and intelligence, he declared himself “the better fighter.”
Journalists in attendance were clearly entertained and, though it probably wasn’t necessary, pushed him to further bad mouth his cocky opponent.
“He’s as dumb as he is tall,” an obliging Miller said. “He doesn’t have to be my fan. I don’t care. As a matter of fact, he’ll be a fan afterwards and I’ll sign a t-shirt for him.”
Merenda laughed in delight.
Miller, anxious to prove critics wrong that his career is over, added, “I can’t wait to show off on Saturday night.”