by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
MMA has proven to be popular among many athletes in other sports, and some have even gone as far as training with fighters to learn some new skills and pick up tricks of the trade when it comes to cardio and conditioning.

One particular athlete liked it so much he decided to partner up with a group of MMA fighters to open a new gym.

Mike Miller, who just recently signed a five-year, $30 million dollar deal to play with the Miami Heat, has been working alongside UFC fighters Ryan Bader, Aaron Simpson, and C.B. Dollaway as the group gets ready to open a new state-of-the-art facility in Arizona later this year.

The new Miami Heat guard admits that he’s a big fan of MMA, and definitely sees the benefits of working with fighters like those he’s partnered with during the off season.

“I love it, it’s one of my favorite sports for sure. I’ve always watched it and it’s something that like the wrestling world, the same thing that’s intriguing them, it’s intriguing me. It’s a high impact sport, a lot of action and it’s fun to watch,” said Miller in an interview with MMAWeekly.com.

“The program that these guys are going through is the most ridiculous program I’ve seen. They work out harder than anybody. The hardest workouts I’ve ever been through, that’s why I came down here though. I realized how hard these guys work, and I felt like I might as well join them. It’s been a good experience.”

While Miller won’t partake in anything that could cause him injury to miss time for his NBA career, he admits the conditioning workouts are preparing him for the long season ahead and he may even convince new teammates LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh to travel to Arizona to get some work in as well.

Miller has picked up a few new tricks along the way just in case anyone does get a little rowdy during the basketball season as well. He says he’s picked up a pretty effective guillotine choke, and some other miscellaneous tricks to keep his NBA games on track.

“All the conditioning, and my ground and pound is going to be something people are going to be talking about,” Miller joked.

UFC middleweight Aaron Simpson has worked with Miller the entire time, and says that it’s special to have an athlete from another major sport show interest in his craft, and getting him involved was great idea for everybody.

“It’s a cool thing that he’s taken an interest in MMA,” said Simpson. “It’s pretty cool, we’re a pretty tight team.”

Admitting that early UFC pioneer Keith Hackney was his favorite fighter when he grew up watching the sport, Miller stays active watching the current crop of competitors and now has a renewed interest as he enters into a new business with his friends.

That interest will continue as the gym opens in 2010, but Miller will soon set his eyes towards a whole new prize. Playing alongside James, Wade, and Bosh, he has a nickname all picked out for the group of superstars that will kick off their season in October.

“Teammates. Hopefully champions,” Miller answered about a nickname for the trio. “That’s our goal, it’s going to be a lot of fun. We’re excited for October to come around for training camp to open up, and then move on.”

Miller says playing with the Heat and getting a shot at multiple NBA championships is what ultimately made his decision for him. In an off season where several teams, including the Los Angeles Lakers were vying for his services, it was the team in South Beach that he believes gave him the best chance to win.

“It’s intriguing for sure. You get an opportunity to play with two or three of the top 10 players in the league, it gives you an opportunity,” Miller said. “I haven’t had a chance to play much into the month of June, and a chance to play deep in the playoffs my whole career, and I made it a point this summer I was going to make a decision to be a part of a winner.

“What better place than Miami to go and do that.”

Mike Miller will join his teammates in Miami as training camp draws near, but not before working with his friends in Arizona as Ryan Bader and C.B. Dollaway prepare for their fights on Sept. 25 in Indianapolis.