August 14, 2011
Jim Miller deserves a title shot
By NEIL SPRINGER, QMI Agency
TORONTO - Jim Miller is a patient man — maybe too patient.
The New Jersey lightweight is riding a seven-fight winning streak that spans more than two years. He holds wins over tough opponents like Charles Oliveira, Mark Bocek and Kamal Shalorus. His sole losses are decisions to the two men who are set to fight for the 155-pound title this fall — Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard.
Somebody get this man a title shot!
But perhaps the only person who doesn’t feel he’s worthy is Miller himself. Despite being well overdue for a championship opportunity, he’s still more than happy to simply wait his turn.
“I want the tough road; I want to fight all the best guys,” Miller said on a recent conference call. “If I feel like I can be the UFC champ, then whoever they’re going to stick in my way on the way up to that point I should be able to beat.”
The next stop on that road to the top is former WEC lightweight champion Benson Henderson in the co-main event of UFC on
Versus 5 in Milwaukee on Sunday. The card will be headlined by a welterweight scrap between Dan Hardy and Chris Lytle.
But even if he beats the tough Henderson to extend his streak to eight fights — one less than Georges St. Pierre’s current run — Miller still doesn’t plan to push for a crack at the belt.
“Honestly, I don’t know if it would guarantee one,” Miller said. “Ben is a tough fight and a win over him would mean a lot and have a lot of weight behind it. But like I said, you never know what’s going to happen.
“So I’ll just keep fighting. If I can pull out a win on the 14th and they tell me they’re going to throw me in there with somebody else, then so be it. I like to stay active and keep fighting and have that motivation to improve and just light a fire under my ass and be in the gym and try to get better every day.”
But to be fair, Miller’s lack of lobbying isn’t the only reason he hasn’t been named the number one contender yet. The division has been stuck in neutral since Edgar and Maynard went to a draw at UFC 125 in January.
The two were set to meet again at UFC 130 in May, but injuries forced both men off the card, exacerbating the 155-pound logjam. They will finally settle the score at UFC 136 in Houston, Texas on Oct. 8 — hopefully.
As for Henderson, it’s unlikely that a win over Miller will net him a title opportunity. Prior to his impressive unanimous decision victory over Bocek at UFC 129 in Toronto, he lost the WEC championship to Anthony Pettis in December.
Henderson said the Pettis loss derailed his momentum going into the UFC, but also pointed out that he’s since regained it.
“I did have a setback a couple fights ago, but since then I’m back on the winning track, back to where every fight is bigger than the last fight and the opponent is tougher than the last guy,” Henderson said.
“So Jim definitely is the toughest guy (I’ve fought). With him being a wrestler, I know he’s going to bring that wrestling mentality. I’ll just grind him out and do whatever it takes to get my hand raised.”
Henderson and Miller stack up well on paper. Both are talented wrestlers with solid ground games and strong cardio. Miller’s last fight saw him display some improved striking against Shalorus, while Henderson was able to successfully neutralize Bocek’s stellar ground game.
“I think our styles are pretty similar,” Henderson said. “We’re both former collegiate wrestlers who got into MMA afterwards. So we’re pretty wrestling-based on the ground. His transition to jiu jitsu and mine followed similar paths.
“Maybe it could lead to more striking (in the fight). I think that while Jim and I follow similar paths on the ground — we’re both wrestlers and have a harder edge to our jiu jitsu style. But obviously every fighter thinks that he’s better. Obviously I think my ground game will come out on top.”
Henderson is also proving to challenge Miller in the patience department, admitting he doesn’t really care if a win Sunday puts him in the title mix. As long as he’s successful in the cage, he’ll get there eventually.
“Actually, to be honest with you I have no idea (if I’d be in the title mix),” Henderson said. “I don’t really give it much thought.“I don’t really care. If you’re on the right track and you’re getting your hand raised, that’s the only thing that matters. Whether you’re number 20 and you keep getting your hand raised, eventually you’re going to get to the title or if you’re No. 2, whoever you call out next. It doesn’t really matter at all.”