The case for Mayhem Miller

Jason “Mayhem” Miller won the coaching battle with Michael Bisping, hands down. And his attitude during the show compared with Bisping’s made it easy for fans to pick sides going into last night’s fight.

But Miller really didn’t have much of a chance. He hadn’t fought in 16 months, and his last fight was a largely ceremonial dispatching of aging legend Sakuraba. He had only one prior fight in the UFC, in 2005 against Georges St. Pierre. Dana White says he didn’t look too good in that one, but who looks good against GSP? White and some of the media sang Dan Hardy’s praises for the mere act of not being submitted in a five-round whitewash. (Hardy lost his next three fights.)

Miller’s much better on the ground than he is on his feet. Last night, he was fighting a kickboxing monster in Bisping who’s also a bit bigger — Bisping’s a former light heavyweight, Miller sometimes fights at welterweight.

So Miller, rather predictably, came out and had a strong first round (FightMetric stats clearly favor him) but used up all his energy in doing so. Bisping pounded him for another round and a half before the fight was stopped.

White didn’t seem bullish on Miller’s future after last night’s loss. He Tweeted that the fight was one of the most lopsided in UFC history, though it clearly wasn’t the most lopsided of the night. (That would be Johnny Bedford’s gruesome beatdown of Louis Gaudinot in another substantial size mismatch.) Even after getting called out on Twitter by people pointing to Miller’s first-round performance and countless lopsided fights in UFC history (Quarry-Starnes, Silva-Griffin), he stuck by it in his postfight interview with Ariel Helwani. He was even less enthusiastic about Miller in his interview with Heavy MMA.

Four reasons to keep Mayhem in the Octagon:

1. He deserves a shot to be something other than the big underdog. His two UFC fights are against the greatest welterweight of all time and a top contender who’s a bad matchup for him even if he hasn’t been inactive for 16 months. If Hardy gets to stick around after dropping four straight, why cut Miller?

2. Grappling doesn’t suck. Variety is a good thing on a UFC card. The organization has plenty of “stand-and-bang” guys who stick around forever even though they’ll never crack the top 20. How about keeping a guy who can bring it on the ground?

3. He’s a good personality. He could easily join Stephan Bonnar and Amir Sadollah in the rotation of analyst/panelist/interviewers. (And let him do a real entrance next time.)

4. Promotional credibility. Fans tend to notice if you hype somebody up and then dump on them after one mistake.

Mayhem brought a lot to this season of The Ultimate Fighter, and that’s nothing to take lightly. We need to quit pretending that the best fighters are necessarily the best or most compelling TUF coaches. (See Lesnar, Brock. Or Hughes, Matt.) Maybe he has a long way back before he can coach there again, but people would probably tune in.

If Strikeforce continues as the flashy, techno-infused sibling to the rock-and-rap UFC, maybe Mayhem would be a better fit there in the long run. But surely he deserves at least one more shot in the UFC first. He did the UFC a great service by helping them reinvigorate The Ultimate Fighter before it moves to a new network. Seems like he should get some capital out of that valuable service.

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