Shields, Miller gear up for Strikeforce

JOSE RODRIGUEZ, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:32 AM ET

Some fighters, such as Nick Diaz and B.J. Penn, vilify their opponents before they even step in the cage.

Others -- Tito Ortiz being the prime example -- feel the need to draw on pro-wrestling-style antics and drama to build interest in their fights.

But most MMA fighters forgo the pre-fight publicity tactics and are generally friendly -- and in some cases friends -- with the man they are about to scrap. No press conference punch-ups or trash-talking.

Such is the case with Jake Shields and Jason "Mayhem" Miller, who will square off for the vacant Strikeforce middleweight championship Nov. 7 on CBS.

"We're cool with each other," says Shields, the former EliteXC welterweight champ who is riding a 12-fight win streak and boasts a 23-4-1 record. "We've gone out a few times. (But) it's not like we sit at home and talk with each other on the phone or anything."

Miller interjects: "You're breaking my heart, man. I thought you were my best friend. I thought we had a connection."

Shields chuckles.

"I have fun hangin' out with him, but I have no problem punching him in the face, either," says the 30-year-old Cesar Gracie-trained submission expert.

"When we get done with the fight, we'll be cool, but we won't have any problem once we're in the ring."

Miller, who hosts MTV's Bully Beatdown and is as noted for his outrageous sense of humour as his fighting, has no problem punching back.

"If he knocks me out, I'll be very sore at him for one night," says the 28-year-old Miller, who has a 22-6 record.

"I've fought my own dad so many times and we're still friends. It all comes down to competition."

Miller says it would be difficult for most people to understand how fighters can turn their rage on and off.

VOWS TO PUT ON A SHOW

"We're trying to hurt each other as bad as we can in those 25 minutes inside the cage, but afterwards we can be buddies because that's our job and it's just a competition."

The flamboyant Miller plans to take full advantage of his network TV debut.

"I'm going to put some showmanship into it," he says.

"That's not that common in the shows here in America, but if I can put some flair into it and people are going to be talking about it around the water cooler on Monday, well there you go. That's the way to capitalize that we're on CBS, regular television where you can get it on your bunny (rabbit) ears."

The Miller/Shields fight is part of a card that will feature Fedor Emelianenko taking on Brett Rogers.

JOSE.RODRIGUEZ@SUNMEDIA.CA


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