Former UFC middleweight Jason Miller and current UFC contender Mark Munoz were once the closest of friends and training partners. At one time, they even went as far as to call each other brothers. The two trained side by side at Reign, Munoz’s gym in Lake Forrest, Calif., as they battled their way up the MMA ladder as UFC employees.
Over the last few weeks, Miller, who goes by the moniker “Mayhem,” has found himself behind bars on more than one occasion – three to be exact. The charges seem to stem from a relationship with a female friend that has rapidly turned sour and cost Mayhem a good portion of his time, money, and perhaps his sanity as well.
Over this time, the once solid relationship between Munoz and Miller became strained. Munoz had a gym to look after, and Miller’s behavior and subsequent run-ins with the law became too much to bear. So Munoz asked Miller to leave Reign.
As Miller’s journey began to take an ugly turn of late night Twitter sessions and erratic behavior, he lashed out on social media to confront Munoz.
“You are such a *******@markmunoz how do you expect to do anything with your life other than be your wife’s gimp?” he tweeted.
Miller then went on to rant about Munoz’s relationship with the UFC, and had a few other choice words for him, none of which were particularly complimentary.
In a recent interview, Miller also went as far to question Munoz’s Christian faith and his loyalty.
“You know, I would have done anything for him at one point. But I live by a code,” said Miller. “A code of loyalty, honor, and respect, and when I say I’m someone’s brother I mean it. I’m your brother.”
MMAWeekly.com spoke with Munoz just hours after Miller’s latest arrest earlier this week. And although Munoz is visibly uncomfortable talking about the troubled fighter, he makes it clear that he tried to remedy.
“It is personal,” Munoz said when asked about their tenuous relationship. “But I will share this: I tried to help.
“Unfortunately, I do own a business. If I didn’t own business… there were decisions that needed to be made to keep the integrity of my business and those were some of the things he referenced in those tweets – that, and that I always said I was going to be there for him. So things went south from him there, and I tried, I really tried. There’s definitely consequences for your actions, and that’s something he needs to know.
“It doesn’t negate the fact that I care about him. I care about him. I really do,” he said as he looked on with somber eyes.
“But I do have people to protect. I have people and a business I need to provide for, and there are decisions that hade to be made. I wish that it was different, but it’s not. I hope the best for him, but at the same time he’s been in trouble with the law on a number of occasions and it’s a direct reflection of the behaviors he’s been doing.
“I always say, ‘You reap what you sow.’ If you sow bad deeds, you’re gonna reap bad things; it’s not complicated. I truly hope he turns a corner, or changes something, because he’s been referencing verses in the bible a lot. Hopefully he really does something and has a change of heart about some of the things he’s been deciding to do. I pray for him, I think about him a lot, and I truly hope the best for him.”
It’s obvious that Munoz still cares about Jason Miller. You can see it in his eyes, and you can hear it when he talks. After all, at one point, Miller was willing to sacrifice his career and financial future to help his former training partner and brother.
According to Munoz, as he was preparing for his fight with Demian Maia in June 2011 at UFC 131, Mayhem was being recruited for a stint on The Ultimate Fighter 14, coaching opposite the brash Brit Michael Bisping. Word came down from the UFC that Miller needed to begin filming at a certain time, but Miller refused. Instead he explained to the UFC that he would need more time to help train Munoz for his upcoming fight – a fight that, at the time, was the biggest of Munoz’s still-blossoming career.
“The fact of the matter is, I truly care about him. You know, he gave back to me when we were training here,” recalled Munoz.
“There was a time when he was on The Ultimate Fighter and I was training for Demian Maia at the time. Well, he told the UFC, ‘I need to be here for Mark’s training camp.’ I’m like, ‘No! You go ahead and take this opportunity, because this opportunity is there for you, you do it. If not, they may get a different coach.’
“And he told the UFC, ‘No, I want to be here for two more weeks until Mark’s fight.’ And he did. And yet, he was still able to coach The Ultimate Fighter, but there was a chance someone else would get to be a coach. So there’s things he did… he was a great training partner to me. He showed me a lot of things. And I was able to reciprocate that and show him a lot of things. And I considered him a true friend, and I still care about him.”
But as much as Munoz cares about Miller, he’s not really sure what can be done to help him out of his recent tailspin.
“You can lead a guy to water, (but) you can’t force him to drink,” said Munoz.
“We just got to present to him what’s right, and if he takes it, he takes it. I tried. We tried — this whole gym tried. And this whole gym cars about him because he was a big part of this gym.
“He knows what to do. He’s not a dumb guy. He’s very smart. He’s very bright. I just hope he makes decisions that actually improve his future.”
(Follow @RyanMcKinnell on Twitter)