Grand Entrances

If you’ve ever seen video clips or pictures of any of my fights, you’ve more than likely said, “What the hell is wrong with that guy? He’s doing a dance before he gets in the ring? Throwing money? Is that guy out of his mind or what, doesn’t he realize he’s about to get in the cage with a guy who wants to tear his head off?!” The answers are simple. Of course I am, and of course I do!

But this wouldn’t appease the editors of FIGHT!, so at gunpoint they have made me elaborate why I have infused pro-wrestling showmanship into the prestigious sport of mixed martial arts. Luckily, the barrel of the gun is quite cool to the touch, and I work the best under pressure.

Pressure is my best friend. I don’t know why, but since I was a kid I tend to do things the hard way. For example, I’m writing this article a few hours from when it goes to press (hence the gunpoint thing) and I think (hope) it will be exemplary, for that very reason. Now I could launch into an armchair psychologist account of why I have developed from birth into a somewhat anti-social, always rebellious youth, and maintained my strange habits beyond my childhood, often making the simplest of situations into a three-ring circus, but I don’t have even an honorary or online certifi cate in psychology, so I’ll leave that to those who decide to psychoanalyze me. The point is, I perform better under stress, so sometimes I’ll create the stress for myself. I do it unfortunately in all areas in my life. Sorry Time Warner Digital cable, I’ll pay when I’m done writing.

The second reason has something to do with graffiti. I know, graffiti, makes absolutely no sense in the world of fighting, but to me it does. I remember being pulled into the high school principal’s office as a teenager for fighting. Before the geek vice principal could launch into his diatribe about how I’ll never amount to anything, he paused and spoke clearly into his walkie-talkie. “Could you please send a janitor to the 300 hallway to clean up some graffiti?” All I could think was damn it, I just put that there 30 minutes ago.

Why the hell does a kid in downtown LA shimmy thirty feet up a street sign protected with barbed wire to draw a picture of a cartoon character smoking a cigarette? Easy, he wants to leave his mark. He wants to be heard, express his feelings, his emotions, be remembered. We all have this desire. Some of us pop out a bunch of kids, some fight, some draw, or work on engines, but we aren’t far from the cave paintings of our distant cousins.

Every entrance has had its own meaning. For a fight that I was making next to nothing for, I threw out a bunch of money, as if to say “money doesn’t matter!” I’ve had choreographed dance routines by the notorious b-boy Flow Master to amp the crowd up, as well as pyrotechnics that I was afraid were going to burn me or the building down. But every time, it was meant to express something going on in my life, or how I was feeling at that point. Sad, happy, whichever, whatever. Self expression, attempting to leave a legacy.

I’m shocked at the lack of showmanship in the world of mixed martial arts. I don’t know about the readers, but I grew up being babysat by Optimus Prime, and then eating dinner with “Hacksaw” Jim Dugan, The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase, and “Hulk” Hogan, with whom I shook hands at an event for 4th graders; I thought his hands felt like a bunch of bananas. These characters and larger than life personalities really left an impression on me to this day. The clearly defined roles of good guy/bad guy were so apparent to a preteen Jason Miller, but times have changed, and so has the game.

Gone are the days of pre-determined outcomes, as well as the faces and heels of the pro wrestling world, unless of course you still watch that kind of “fighting.” With Zuffa blazing trails in American entertainment and bringing MMA to the forefront of pop culture, I think it is the athletes’ responsibility to showcase their personalities to the world. You’d much rather see me win or get my ass kicked if you remember or care about me. Not to say everyone needs to be as wild and outlandish as I tend to be, but if we don’t know who you are, we don’t care one way or the other. My “wrasslin” entrances are just my special way to get across who I am.

I see quite a few fi ghters get nerves before the fi ght. Sometimes the dressing room of an event can look like the inside of one of those amphibious vehicles that stormed Normandy on D-day. I always laugh when I see some young bucks looking like caged lions, pacing back and forth, amped like they swallowed five gallons of Starbucks.

Although I can’t say I don’t get some kinds of nerves, I deal with it in a much different way than most people. When I think the plane might be going down and every other passenger on the plane is white-knuckle gripping the armrests, I am usually giggling to myself. It may well be genetic, because my dad has a similar response to intense situations, which probably didn’t help him on any Kuwaiti battlefield, but apparently does help a Miller handle the worst of situations.

I guess my laughing and displays of sometimes silly proportions go right along with my trademark “Strip of Doom” haircut – just another way I deal with the world, however boring and understimulating it might be at times. Piling stress on top of an already stressful situation may seem like an insane thing to do, but in my humble opinion, a lot of the best things in life tend to be a little crazy. I encourage anyone who can read these words, as well as those who can’t, to express themselves to the best of their abilities and leave a mark in whatever way you can.

Lastly, I hope anyone watching my fights will be entertained from the time I walk into the building to the minute I walk out. If the crowd wanted to just see any fight, they could hang out at the local bar for a few nights with a water pistol. Entertainment is why they paid 300 bucks to sit in the nosebleed section. If entertainment is what you want, then that’s what you get. Now that I’ve explained that, good luck figuring out the rest of me. And editors, please, get the gun off my temple. Thanks.

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