Known more as entertainer, Miller out to prove his cage skills
He hears it all the time: "Hey,
You'd think a pro athlete might get sick of this, being recognized for his role as the host of a gimmicky MTV reality show and not his athletic accomplishments. But
"That's just how it is," he said. "If you go and hop on a project like that and you get a lot of fame for it, that's part of the package. But it doesn't matter to me what people think. If they actually watch me fight, they'll see that not only can I crack people up, I can crack somebody's head open."
On Saturday night, America will get the chance to see Miller's violent side for themselves when he takes on
It all started when he was arrested as a teenager for stealing wood from a construction site to build a skateboard ramp. As a blend of punishment and guidance, his father forced him to read a
"I remember the things I wrote down," he said. "Fighting was one of them and making people laugh was another. Here I am doing both."
Now the entire nation will be able to flip on their TVs -- cable subscription be damned -- and see those talents on display.
Network TV is big exposure for any MMA fighter, but it's an especially novel opportunity for someone like Miller, who's spent much of his career competing in Japan. There, his antics and larger-than-life persona have made him a fan favorite. In the States, though he's known as the M.C. of MTV's reality show, few have actually seen Miller in action in the cage.
Perhaps that's one reason his title fight with Shields hasn't received much of a promotional push from CBS, which seems content to pin all their hopes on the
"I don't know if they realize that a lot of people watch
And therein lies the rub for Mayhem: Dancing for the cameras would be just fine if his aspirations ended with being a TV host. But this could be his one shot to prove to an audience of millions that he's also a world-class fighter. That is, if he can get through heavily favored opponent with a fearsome ground game who hasn't lost a fight in nearly five years.
Miller insists that, unlike most of Shields' recent opponents, he isn't relying on his takedown defense to save him. If people think his only path to victory is to keep things standing, he says that's only because they don't know what he's capable of on the mat.
"I'm good enough on the ground to not only survive, but to turn the tables and submit him," said Miller. "I'm good enough, but people have yet to see it," says Miller. "I'm not really afraid of getting taken down. Even if he takes me down, so what? It's still a fight after that. It's not like he's going to smash me the way he does all the 170-pounders."
For most fighters outside the UFC, opportunities to prove yourself to the world are few and far between, and Miller knows it. He's trained harder for this fight than any other in his career, he says, but he isn't feeling any extra pressure with it being on prime-time network television. Why would he? For a born entertainer like him, it's just another chance to bask in the spotlight.
"I live for this. I love to do this job," he said. "I just let it come naturally. I do what I like, and that's what's going to help me win this fight. I really enjoy what I'm doing."