It's time to award Miller with a title shot
January, 21, 2012
By Brett Okamoto
NASHVILLE -- It’s time for Jim Miller to get a title shot.
Of all the marquee names that make up the top of the 155-pound division, none should be higher right now than Miller’s. The division has a great title fight in line next month between Frankie Edgar and Ben Henderson. Regardless of who wins, Miller should be next.
The six-year veteran did exactly what we’ve come to expect of him Friday, turning in a rock-solid performance with a first-round submission win over Melvin Guillard.
Afterward, Miller refused to cry for title shots -- it's not his style. Even when he was riding a seven-fight win streak in 2011, Miller shied away from explicitly saying, "Me next."
This time, however, he didn’t have to. Guillard did it for him at the news conference.
“You can’t count Frankie in this because he’s No. 1, but at the end of the day, me and Jim Miller are the best two guys in this division,” Guillard told ESPN.com.
“We’re two guys people run from. People are not lining up to fight me and Jim. I admire Jim Miller. Facing him, I was probably the most nervous I’ve been in a long time.”
If the one reason Miller (21-3) can’t fight for the title in his next fight is that he lost to Henderson in August, sorry, that’s not enough. Just as it’s not in his personality to call for title shots, Miller is also not one to make excuses -- even though he had a legitimate one for that performance.
During training camp for that fight, Miller contracted mononucleosis. In the days leading up to the event, he came down with a kidney infection as a result of a difficult weight cut.
Miller downplays the effect both ailments had on his performance, saying he should have been able to adjust his gameplan to overcome it. He points to the fact that, despite those challenges, he nearly caught Henderson in multiple submissions.
That ability to regularly catch opponents in potentially fight-ending scenarios is what, Miller believes, will allow him to eventually win and hang onto the belt.
Ric Fogel for ESPN.comJim Miller, right, overcame a rough start before toppling Melvin Guillard.
“I train to be dangerous,” Miller said. “In my last fight I had Ben in serious trouble half a dozen times. It would have taken just little adjustments to end the fight. I know I can put guys in trouble.”
It’s not that it isn’t a close race at the top of the division. To suggest guys like Anthony Pettis, Joe Lauzon, Nate Diaz and Clay Guida aren’t firmly in the title hunt is inaccurate.
No one has built a case better, however, than Miller. If he is not next in line, the UFC should at least allow him to fight the one who perceivably is.
Edgar has garnered a lot of respect for his ability to rally back from difficult starts -- just see both fights against Maynard. On Friday, Miller demonstrated the same type of heart, overcoming a combination from Guillard, which had him rocked in the first minute.
Following the win, Miller admitted he didn’t even remember the final sequence of taking Guillard’s back and locking in the rear-naked choke.
“I don’t really remember much of it, to be honest,” he said. “I kind of went into work-mode. I don’t know how I took his back. I just knew I wanted to squeeze as hard as I could once I had it.”
Miller might not have initially remembered much about the win, but hopefully the UFC does -- and rewards him accordingly.