By Jeff Birchfield
NET News Service
Its a make-or break fight for Tim Stout.
It will show whether the Johnson City-trained mixed martial artist is a serious championship contender or a journeyman fighter. Making it a greater opportunity for the Mountain City native, it will come against a well-known opponent on network television.
Next Saturday at Bridgestone Arena, Stout (12-8) will face Jason Mayhem Miller (22-7) in a middleweight (185 lbs.) fight as part of Strikeforce: Nashville. On the undercard of a title bout between two-time Olympic wrestler Dan Henderson against Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields, the Stout-Miller fight will be shown on CBS either through highlights or in its entirety depending on how long the featured matches last.
I would say this fight will make me either way, said Stout, 31. Its against a top-10 fighter, so it can catapulte my career.
Stouts opponent is well-known by the key 18-35 male demographic both in and out of the ring. Sporting multi-colored hair, Mayhem Miller is the host of the popular MTV reality show Bully Beatdown.
While Miller is an over-the-top personality on the show and with his flamboyant ring entrances, he is all business once the fight begins. Someone who possesses excellent grappling skills, he nearly choked out Shields before losing a decision last November in their championship match.
Hes real unorthodox so I know its going to be a real tough fight, Stout said. Ive fought several UFC fighters, but hes probably the top guy Ive faced.
The matchup features the classic contrast of styles as Stout is known as a striker with a background in boxing and toughman competitions. His nickname M.O.A.B. is an acronym for a very powerful bomb, a reference to Stouts punching power. He scored knockouts in 11, nine and 16 seconds in his first three MMA fights. Not surprisingly, he wants to make next Saturdays more of a boxing match.
Still, a closer look into Stouts background shows that Miller will have to account for his all-around skills.
A fan of Chuck Norris and Bruce Lee movies, Stout started combat sports by taking karate under the tutelage Mountain Citys Gary Manuel at age 9. He got into boxing at age 15 under Mountain Citys Marvin Fritts and Elizabethtons Cobb Riddle before eventually getting involved in mixed martial arts, training with Johnson Citys Casey Oxendine.
I really liked boxing and I did that for a long while, Stout said. Then I got into the tough man tournaments. You can only win so many of those and they ask you not to do them anymore. Thats when I got turned on to Caseys school. I saw him and where hes not a very big guy, I thought, Im not going to learn anything here. Of course, I start training with Casey and he had me twisted up in knots. In about two weeks after my first lesson, I moved from Mountain City to Johnson City to train with him.
Even though he now lives in the Atlanta area, Stout always comes to Oxendines South Johnson City gym for a few training sessions when hes preparing for a fight.
I dont trust anyone in my corner more than Casey, he said. I trust his opinion and I know hell help me with whatever I need.
Since turning pro, Stouts career has had its share of ups and downs. In his most high-profile fight, he knocked out Brandon Melendez in just 42 seconds, a fight just a few months after Melendez won the Ultimate Fighter competition. It set Stout on the road for a title bout, but he was upset by Roger Carroll in a fight which Stout said extensive training caused his body to shut down.
The 12-8 record can be deceiving as the top mixed martial artists tend to have more losses than top boxers. Stout explained it comes as the result of having to prepare for so many fighting styles.
Its like where Im a better boxer, I can beat a better grappler, he said. But if a better grappler keeps me on the ground, it goes vice-versa. There are so many contradictions of styles that even the best fighters in the world have losses. Its very rare you see anyone undefeated. If you are undefeated, its unlikely youve been facing top-level competition.
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