UFC 155’s Joe Lauzon Credits Finishing and Submission Skills of Jim Miller: “That’s the Kind of Guy I am Too”
By Kelsey Mowatt
In a year where injuries have dominated headlines in MMA, not surprisingly, this Saturday’s UFC 155 card did not avoid the injury bug that has been assaulting the promotion’s roster for months. While an injured knee forced Gray Maynard to withdraw from his tilt with Joe Lauzon, this time the UFC was able to replace the noted competitor with another of the division’s top fighters in Jim Miller. As a result, the established vet Lauzon still has plenty to gain from his year end trip to Las Vegas.
“Ya, I’m obviously disappointed, Gray was a really big name and I really liked how the match-up would have played out,” Lauzon noted on the most recent episode of Full Contact Fighter Radio. “Things like this happen all the time…I’m excited that I got such a great replacement with Jim Miller though; he has great fights, always exciting, so it should be a really fun fight.”
“The UFC giving me such great fights, with high profile guys on great spots and great cards, we’re the co-main-event now, that’s awesome to be in the position like that,” Lauzon added. “It makes me feel really good when guys like Dana, Lorenzo and Joe Silva want to see me in big fights.”
Of course, the majority of the time Miller (21-4) participates in “great fights”, the 29 year-old lightweight emerges victorious. Although the New Jersey fighter has lost two of his last three, both came against men who stand at the top of the division in current champion Benson Henderson and the last man to challenge him, Nate Diaz. Prior to facing Henderson, Miller had won seven straight bouts to position himself as one of the sport’s best lightweights.
“Jim has fought some really tough guys; he was on a seven or eight fight win streak, so he’s fought some really good guys and beat some really good guys,” furthered Lauzon (22-7), who is coming off a third round, submission win over Jamie Varner in August.. “We would have taken a fight against Jim just as quickly as we took a fight against Gray. It’s not like he’s just the best they could have come up with. It would have been a great match-up regardless if it was a replacement or not.”
While Miller and Maynard have much in common in terms of their resumes and standing in the UFC lightweight division, there are some noticeable difference in their make-up as fighters.
“I think they’re both good at all three things, but it’s a little bit more lopsided with Gray,” said Lauzon, while comparing the wrestling, striking and jiu-jitsu skills of the two. “His wrestling is so much better than anything else. His strength, I’m sure he’s a lot stronger than Jim, whereas I think Jim’s strong, but I think he’s going to be quicker than Gray. I don’t think he has the punching power that Gray has, and he doesn’t have the wrestling either.”
“Jim I think has better submissions and better jiu-jitsu,” Lauzon added. “Gray will fight you like a wrestler; always staying on base, never on his back, where as Jim if he has to go to his back to go for something he will. I like that. That’s the kind of guy I am too. If I see something then I’ll go for it. If I end up on the bottom or my back I’m okay with that.”
In addition to the differences between Miller and Maynard, in terms of where they excel as fighters, Lauzon has had to make other adjustments for the new match-up. The good news for Lauzon, however, was that word of Maynard’s injury and Miller accepting the bout emerged in mid November.
“The big thing that changes is Gray was a righty and Jim’s a lefty,” said Lauzon, while discussing the changes he had to make to his training camp. “All the boxing and kickboxing, stand-up stuff all completely changes. Instead of stepping to the right you’re constantly stepping to the left. Little things like that. A lot of habits that over time you kind of build up and develop. You have to reprogram everything for someone who stands the opposite.”