MIXED MARTIAL ARTS
'Mayhem' faces a 'Giant' ICON Sport opponent
Jason Miller is known for his wild antics and ability to talk trash to opponents prior to his fights, but there are 370 reasons why "Mayhem" is a little quieter than usual this week.
The former welterweight champion will return to the Icon ring tomorrow night as he faces 6-foot-7, 370-pound monster Stefan "Giant" Gamlin in the main event of the Icon Sport: Mayhem vs. Giant card at Blaisdell Arena.
The event will feature 13 fights, including Icon's very first open-weight fight. "Mayhem," who forced Niko Vitale to tap out in his last appearance back in October, returns from a four-month suspension after his arrest in December on first-degree burglary charges. His suspension was lifted a month ago, but his reward for it is a fight against a former NFL Europe football player and K-1 veteran who is twice his size.
"I've fought guys bigger, I just can't remember when," Miller said. "I'm so happy to be back with all the support I've had from the Hawaiian people, and I'm excited about the opportunity to fight such a good-looking man."
Mayhem, who currently is the No. 1 contender to Robbie Lawler's middleweight (185 pound) title, arrived at yesterday's press conference with an empty bucket of chicken from KFC, but was surprisingly relaxed and low-key, despite this being his first fight in nearly eight months.
"I almost feel like the Hawaiian fighter now," Miller said. "I'm speechless."
Despite sporting an 0-2 mixed-martial-arts record, it was Gamlin who did most of the talking. The former Arkansas football standout has lost both of his MMA fights in less than a minute by submission, but is confident that all he'll need is one right hand to earn the victory.
"My best thing to do is go out and knock him out early," Gamlin said. "I can't play around with him or he'll wear me out, like a cat chasing a mouse. I'm going to get the KO in under 2 minutes."
Four of Miller's five wins in Icon Sport have come by submission, but never against someone with the size and strength of Gamlin, who possesses more power behind one punch than any fighter Miller has faced before.
"I better keep my head on a swivel and make sure I don't get hit with anything," he said.
The idea for this open-weight fight came from the PRIDE Fighting Championship organization in Japan, which is currently in the middle of a 16-man open-weight grand prix tournament, and wanted to showcase these types of fights in America. Icon Sport, which has close ties to PRIDE, was approached with the idea of holding a tournament of its own, but settled on a one-fight deal to show local fans the complexities of a submission-style fighter like Mayhem fighting a guy twice his size.
"Japan has fights like this that America hasn't really seen," Miller said. "It's a great opportunity because it shows that technique can prevail over raw power."
While it makes the most sense for Miller to try to avoid any standing confrontations, "Mayhem" is adamant that he won't run away from his much larger opponent, and will stand and bang with Gamlin if he has to.
"Running is not in my repertoire," Miller said. "I'll have my hands up, chin down, and will be ready to fight. I won't be running around him. This is not a marathon."
Tomorrow night will also feature Anthony "The Crush" Torres, who competed on Spike TV's Ultimate Fighter reality show, as he makes his return to the ring from the show to fight West Virginia's Jerry Hackney at 175 pounds. Up-and-coming 135-pound fighter Tyson Nam will face undefeated fighter Bill "Spider" Dexter in another feature fight, and "The Big Easy" Ray Seraille also returns to the Icon ring after a two-year hiatus as he fights heavyweight Gary "Ironbear" Myers.
The doors will open at 6:30 p.m., with the preliminary fights beginning at 7 p.m. instead of the usual 7:30 p.m. start time. Tickets are still available.
ICON SPORT: MAYHEM VS. GIANT
At Blaisdell Arena
Jason "Mayhem" Miller (14-4) vs. Stefan "Giant" Gamlin (0-2)
Bill "Spider" Dexter (7-0) vs. Tyson Nam (1-0)
Anthony "The Crush" Torres (2-0) vs. Jerry Hackney (4-3)
"The Big Easy" Ray Seraille (3-7) vs. Gary "Ironbear" Myers (9-8-1)
Lawrence Shorter vs. Sydney Silva
Kaleo Kwan vs. Marshall Harvest
Pat Collins vs. Jarret Lindsey
Kimo Lee vs. Derek Stadler
Ron Verdadero vs. Jack Richardson
Jared Santos vs. Ikaika Silva
Bronson Mohika vs. Devin Damo