Vitale to replace suspended Miller in Feb. 25 card
By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Dayton Morinaga
The "Mayhem" craze in mixed martial arts has been put on hold.
Jason "Mayhem" Miller was suspended indefinitely yesterday from competing in the Icon Sport mixed martial arts organization because of his ongoing legal case.
On Friday, Miller was ordered to stand trial on Feb. 2 for a charge of first-degree burglary following a December arrest. He faces a maximum of 10 years in jail and a $10,000 fine if convicted.
"Icon Sport is indefinitely suspending Jason 'Mayhem' Miller for conduct unbecoming an Icon Sport athlete," Icon Sport president T. Jay Thompson said. "After struggling with this, we had to do what was right. And if we're talking about bringing families into the sport and staying mainstream, it would be hard to put someone in the ring so soon after having involvement with the law like this."
Miller was scheduled to fight Iowa's Robbie Lawler for the Icon Sport middleweight championship on Feb. 18 at the Blaisdell Center Arena. That bout has been postponed, although another Icon Sport event will take its place on Feb. 25.
Waipahu's Falaniko Vitale will replace Miller in a bout against Lawler on the Feb. 25 card.
"To call this whole ordeal a mistake is the understatement of the century," Miller said. "I pretty much tarnished the image of mixed martial arts in general."
Miller, who was raised in Atlanta but trains mostly in Las Vegas, has become a popular competitor in Hawai'i. He earned the title bout against Lawler by defeating Vitale last October.
"I hate it because I heard (Thompson) talk about family and I feel so close to Hawai'i," Miller said. "I feel like I just threw the Thanksgiving turkey out the window."
Miller signed a four-fight contract worth around $200,000 with Icon Sport last November.
"His contract will be honored in its entirety," Thompson said. "We're just going to push it back indefinitely right now. We will re-evaluate the Jason Miller situation as time goes on."
Miller was arrested on Dec. 17 after he allegedly kicked down the door of his ex-girlfriend's Nu'uanu apartment.
"It's a sad day for MMA in Hawai'i," Vitale said. "I challenge Jason Miller to try and be a better person, and I hope he learns from this experience."
After losing to Miller in October, Vitale said he was going to retire from competing in mixed martial arts.
"I really had to do some soul searching," Vitale said. "I know I contemplated retirement, but I think it's not fair to the people of Hawai'i, to my family and to the people that I train with."
Vitale lost the Icon Sport middleweight championship to Lawler last July.
The Feb. 25 bout will be a non-title match.
Thompson said tickets purchased for the Feb. 18 date will be honored on Feb. 25.
'CABBAGE' DAMAGED BEFORE 'RUMBLE' FIGHT
Wesley "Cabbage" Correira injured his right arm moments before fighting Eric "Butterbean" Esch in the main event of Friday's Rumble On The Rock 8 mixed martial arts card.
Esch won when Correira had to stop fighting after two rounds at the advice of the ringside doctors because he was diagnosed with a broken right arm.
Correira said he slipped on the concrete floor while warming up in his locker room and landed on his elbow.
"It was my call to go in there and fight," he said. "I'm not going to back down. But it kept popping out during the fight and it was hurting me the whole time."
ROTR president Jay Dee Penn said he was aware of Correira's injury prior to the bout.
"I talked to the trainers, but Cabbage was the one who said he could go," Penn said. "He almost ended up winning, that's the amazing part."
One of the three judges had Correira ahead after two rounds, and the other two had it tied.
Penn said he wanted another "big name" like Butterbean to headline the next ROTR card on April 7.
The semifinals and final of the welterweight tournament will take place on the April 7 card.
After Friday's quarterfinals, the semifinal matchups will be New Mexico's Carlos Condit against New York's Frank Trigg, and Japan's Yushin Okami against California's Jake Shields.
Penn said upset victims Anderson Silva of Brazil and Renato "Charuto" Verissimo de Oliveira of Hawai'i could come back on April 7 as "alternate" fighters.
Reach Dayton Morinaga at firstname.lastname@example.org.