Worth the price of admission

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LAS VEGAS – You probably don't want to hear that Jason Miller is in the next room asking for your daughter's hand. And despite the conservative business suit he wore Saturday, you probably don't want Miller in your boardroom making a crucial presentation to the company's executives.

But he's the guy whose name you want on the marquee if you're going to reach into your wallet and buy a ticket to a fight card. He's the rare professional athlete who makes it fun to spend your money.

Bizarre? You bet. How else can you describe a guy who says he wants to fight Jesus but is worried about His magical powers and who manages to use the words "zygote," "umbilical cord" and "poop" in the same sentence.

In need of a mental health professional? Perhaps.

But Miller actually takes seriously his responsibility to entertain the fans who pay to watch him fight. He's liable to say anything in pre-fight interviews, but what makes him worth every dollar is the approach he takes during his fights.

"Even if I'm getting socked in the face, if they're having fun, then I say, 'Cool!' " Miller said after scoring a unanimous decision over Hiromitsu Miura on Saturday at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino here in Las Vegas. "I always put it all on the line."

His girlfriend, Cathy Tanaka, said Miller's public persona as perhaps the most bizarre man in sports isn't far from his private side.

Miller is an entertainer, she said, and he is always brainstorming ways to get a rise out of a crowd.

"He's on now," Tanaka said as Miller entertained a group of reporters after defeating Miura. "He's a little calmer at home, but not much. It's great, to be honest. There is never a dull moment. Everything is always fun with him.

"He's just that kind of a guy. He's looking for something funny or shocking to say all the time. He's on it more in a situation like this, but this is really who he is. What you see is what he is."

Miller said he was inspired to finish the fight Saturday "when I heard the Mayhem Monkeys screeching in the first row."

He apologized for not winning by stoppage and seemed sincere when he said it. And he didn't duck responsibility about the low blow he delivered to Miura in the third round. He looked like he was a punter trying to kick his team out of a hole when he caught Miura in the worst possible spot.

His intent, he said, was to throw a knee, but it somehow wound up being a kick.

"That was a special technique known as the testicle kick," Miller said. "It's a little known technique I picked up in Japan. He did it back to me and I deserved it. It was an accident. I didn't mean to let my lower leg to go out.

"It was meant to be a knee, but it turned out to be a testicle kick, and I felt like the biggest jerk in the world when I did that."

Too many athletes take the conservative route and do as little as possible to win. But Miller constantly is looking at high-risk moves that will bring the crowd out of its seats.

You pay $100 for a ticket to a Jason Miller fight and he wants to make sure you leave feeling you get $105 worth of action.

"I'll buy my dad a pint of bourbon and stick him out there with my uncle and let them fight in a parking lot if you guys just want to see a fight," Miller said. "But if you want to see a fight with some pizzazz, with some Vegas flair, come see a Mayhem fight.

"If not, I'll let my dad get drunk and you can see a Mike Miller fight. He'll go beat someone up. I try things. I go for the gusto."

And that leaves the fans with smiles on their faces. After an otherwise lackluster card, Miller turned everything around with his acrobatic, high-energy style.

It's mayhem, and not always controlled.

"I think the thing that would hurt him most is if he were ever booed," Tanaka said. "That would horrify him. He's so serious about making sure everyone has fun, he'll try or do or say anything."