“MAYHEM” SPREADS THROUGH TEAM QUEST
By Aaron Crecy
Jason “Mayhem” Miller, (17-4), is moving to a new fight team—and he is bringing his Icon Sport Middleweight Championship belt, his Monkey Cult and 52,000-plus MySpace friends.
When the whimsical Miller, 25, makes his first title defense versus Frank Trigg, (13-5), at Honolulu’s Blaisdell Arena this Friday, Dec. 1, he will do so as a member of the venerable Team Quest Fight Club.
The offbeat Miller is certain to inject a kaleidoscope of colors into the staid Team Quest environment.
“I bring the spice to a pretty normal group of dudes,” Miller laughs. “I’m the only one to wear his weirdness on his sleeve. Everyone else is weird on the inside.”
Ironically, Miller will be cornered by Dan Henderson this weekend, who, like Trigg, began his MMA career as a member of the RAW Team (now renamed R-1). Henderson went on to co-found Team Quest in Gresham, Oregon, and In April 2006, he and longtime training partner Heath Sims opened the doors to Team Quest’s Murrieta, California gym. Since that time, it has served host to an enviable list of world-class mixed martial artists and grapplers.
Miller, Lindland and Bas Rutten convened at the new facility in July for a weeklong training camp prior to the World Fighting Alliance’s “King of the Streets” event. Miller returned to Team Quest in August as he prepared to challenge Robbie Lawler for the Icon Sport Middleweight Championship. That camp included internationally-acclaimed kickboxing trainer Shawn Tompkins, Gracie jiu-jitsu black belt Vinicius “Pezao” Magalhaes and International Fight League stars Chris Horodecki and Krzysztof Soszynski.
PRIDE fighter Ryo Chonan has also spent considerable time at the Team Quest gym, as has Gracie black belt Rani Yahira, an Abu Dhabi finalist and K-1 MMA veteran. Others, such as the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s Dean Lister and 2006 North American ADCC Trials champion and Nova Uniao black belt Mark Bocek, have dropped by to train, as well.
Having become an almost permanent fixture at Team Quest, Miller readily accepted Henderson’s invitation to join forces.
“Mayhem has been training off an on with us for over year,” says Team Quest trainer Ryan Parsons. “He worked out with us when we were still based out of a high school wrestling room. Now that we have a professional gym and coaching staff, we’ve put together amazing training camps and structured practices that you don’t see at most gyms. It’s quickly become a place where a lot of talented guys are coming to train.”
Known his sometimes impetuous behavior and outlandish antics, Miller quickly sheds his capricious demeanor when practice begins.
“He’s the hardest working guy in MMA,” states Parsons matter-of-factly. “He has incredible work ethic and is extremely coachable, which is a recipe for success. He’s actually a guy that you sometimes have to bring down rather than gear up, which is unique. He has no ego whatsoever in the gym, and he’s a team player. Jason fits in perfectly.”
Parsons believes Miller will thrive in the close-knit Team Quest environment. “He’s a free spirit, and he’s been a guy who has sort of bounced around from gym to gym most of his career. Having a home base with regular people to organize your training camps and corner you in a fight provides a sense of stability that generally gives people a framework to improve upon. You have guys that you trust, who can see your progress and know where to direct you.”
It would seem that there is mutual benefit to Miller’s place on Team Quest, as he and Henderson often share techniques and push each other to improve.
“We’re pretty much opposite styles—as opposite as you can get,” Miller explains. “I’m a kickboxer who does jiu-jitsu and he’s a wrestler who tries to knock your head off. We definitely have complementary styles and we’ve been helping each other. I think we’ll continue to help each other do really well and build on the things we’ve accomplished so far.”
Parsons is particularly impressed with Miller’s grappling skills and presence. “He brings a submission game that no one at Team Quest has, and he brings intensity and energy to the practice room.”
Infamous for his self-promotion, Miller has garnered a cult-like following of several thousand “Mayhem Monkeys.” Now, he plans to teach the stoic Henderson a few marketing tricks.
“Mass media marketing is my favorite thing—I’m the original Internet celebrity,” Miller exclaims. “I always give Dan tips, but who knows if he’ll listen to me. I told Dan he should take his damn teeth out during interviews. That’s what I would do.”
The young middleweight looks forward to having the PRIDE champion in his corner and hopes to return the favor someday.
“I know Dan has a long history with his trainers, but if I could get in there it would be an honor to help him out in that respect,” says Miller. “If not, it’s not going to hurt my feelings—I’d be happy to watch him from the nosebleed section.”
In Trigg, Miller faces a career welterweight who is making his first appearance in the middleweight division. Once the top-ranked contender in the UFC, Trigg has lost three of his past four fights—all by submission—and is returning to the ring after a short-lived retirement.
“Trigg has put so much time and effort into the sport, and he’s done such amazing things in the sport,” acknowledges Miller. ”But he is one of those guys who does great things and then comes up short, and that is what he’s going to do in this fight. Is he deserving? I believe so, but he’s not going to want to be in the ring with me after a couple of minutes.”
With Henderson a PRIDE mainstay, it is logical to assume that Miller, a UFC veteran, might someday join the esteemed Japanese organization. But, while his contract with Icon Sport allows him to fight for other promotions outside Hawaii, Miller is currently handcuffed by an exclusive agreement with the WFA, which has twice postponed scheduled events in recent months and appears to be on dubious footing. The ambiguity clearly displeases the otherwise buoyant fighter.
“All I can say about the WFA is check your local listings,” says a frustrated Miller. “I’m at the same point as all the WFA fighters. The man running it (Jeremy Lappen) is a smart dude. We’ll have to see what happens. What I do know is that Robbie Lawler fought in PRIDE right after I beat him up. I need to talk with my management and with the WFA to see if the shows are going to happen.”
In the meantime, Miller has his sights set on retaining the Icon Sport title, and he is confident that his decision to join Team Quest gives him the ideal training partners and environment to do just that.
“I see a really bright future ahead of us,” Miller predicts. “We have some sick wrestlers and really talented young guys over here who are hungry to learn and train. There are some really mean guys coming up and we’re definitely helping each other as a team. It’s unreal.”