Jim Miller: “A Win Over Nate Diaz Sets Me Apart From All The Other Guys”
Lightweight Contender Discusses Saturday’s UFC on FOX Main Event
By Kelsey Mowatt
As they did when they matched him up against the likes of Charles Oliveira, Ben Henderson or Melvin Guillard, the UFC has tapped Jim Miller to take on another fighter who’s on the move in the lightweight division, former welterweight Nate Diaz. Of course, due to the fact Miller has his own championship aspirations, the perennial contender wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I thought it was a great fight,” said Miller, while relaying the fact that he welcomed a chance to fight Diaz at the UFC on FOX 3 card this Saturday in East Rutherford. “It’s a great match-up stylistically. We’re both good on the ground, good striking, and we both push a great pace, so it’s an exciting fight and an exciting match-up.”
Recently Diaz relayed in a pre-fight teleconference that it was his understanding that a win over Miller will pave the way for a lightweight title shot. While Miller relayed that although a title shot is not his primary focus, he believes a dominant victory Saturday could do the same.
“A win over Nate sets me apart from all the other guys really, because I had those seven wins prior to the loss,” said the 28 year-old Miller (21-3), who has gone 10-2 to date in the Octagon. “I had two wins against guys who are at the top of the heap.”
“I’m just focused on Nate right now,” Miller furthered to FCF. “This division, with the Frankie, BJ (Penn) rematch, the years it practically took to get Frankie and Gray (Maynard) all sorted out, with the 70’s, 85’s any other of these weight classes, there would have been opportunities for a bunch of these guys like myself and Melvin to already have fought for the title. With the way everything worked out we didn’t.”
Although Diaz has only recorded two victories since he returned to the lightweight division, after dropping back-to-back losses to welterweights Dong Hyun Kim and Rory MacDonald, the 27 year-old vet has looked dominant in both performances.
In September, Diaz overwhelmed Takanori Gomi en route to a first round submission win, and in December, he outclassed noted striker Donald Cerrone on his feet for the UD victory.
“He’s looked great in his last couple of fights,” Miller said about Diaz, who halted Cerrone’s six fight win streak and rise up the lightweight rankings. “Against ‘Cowboy’ he looked very impressive.”
“Nick did a great job in that fight and threw a ton of punches and really took Donald out of his game,” Miller added. “I thought the fight was going to be a little bit different than that honestly. I thought Donald would be able to land more on his feet, but he just got overwhelmed.”
While Diaz (15-7) has either outstruck or submitted several noted strikers during his UFC tenure, the 6’0 tall fighter has incurred losses against accomplished wrestler and grapplers like Clay Guida, Maynard or MacDonald.
“I don’t want to be on the outside where he can land punches and I can’t,” the 5’8 Miller said about Diaz, who like himself, also holds a black belt in BJJ. “So I want to fight a little more inside…I’ve never lost a fight where I’ve gotten the takedown. That’s something I’m going to be looking for.”
“He has been beat by guys that can out wrestle him or can be a bit more physical than he is,” Miller furthered. “So it’s just fight a hard fight and get the momentum and keep it. He’s one of those guys that he’s as dangerous late as he is at the beginning of the fight.”
Due to the ranking of each man and the importance of the bout, Saturday’s main event is scheduled for five rounds.
“One of the main goals for this fight was to come in the best shape of my life,” Miller noted. “That’s really the main thing is to be able to keep my pace up the entire fight and to be able to use my pressure the entire fight.”