UFC on FOX 3: Nate Diaz vs. Jim Miller Head-to-Toe Breakdown
After respective wins over Donald Cerrone and Melvin Guillard, Nate Diaz and Jim Miller have separated themselves as two of the top contenders in the ultra-competitive lightweight division. As such, the two entertaining 155-pound fighters will meet in the main event of UFC on Fox 3 with a title shot potentially on the line.
Only one year removed from an unsuccessful run in the welterweight division, Diaz has returned to his ideal weight division and appears primed to make a run at the belt. Meanwhile, Miller is one fight removed from a hard-fought loss against now-champion Benson Henderson.
Let's take a look at which fighter has a better chance at taking one step closer to a lightweight title fight.
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Miller has some solid striking, as he recently knocked out Kamal Shalorus, but Diaz's boxing is on a different level than most other lightweights in MMA.
Since returning to the 155-pound division, Diaz used his boxing to best two dangerous strikers in Cerrone and Takanori Gomi. With his long reach and unorthodox style, Diaz was able to frustrate both opponents and force them to fight his fight.
Though he has the chin to go the distance with Diaz on his feet, Miller will need to take this fight to the ground in order to take a lead on the scorecards.
Undoubtedly, the biggest hole in Diaz's game is his wrestling. With losses against Benson Henderson, Gray Maynard and Frankie Edgar, Miller has also had some difficulty against wrestlers, but certainly not to the degree that the Cesar Gracie-trained fighter has.
A jiu-jitsu black belt, Miller can look to take this fight to the ground without the fear of being submitted that many of Diaz's past opponents have had.
Though he doesn't have nearly the size advantage that those fighters had, Miller would do well to follow the game plans that Rory MacDonald and Dong Hyun Kim had against Diaz by bullying the Stockton, Calif. native in the clinch and dragging him to the ground.
Though it does often work out in their favor, one flaw in the games of both Diaz brothers is their willingness to give up positioning in order to attempt a submission. If he attempts to utilize that strategy in this fight, against a fighter who has never been submitted in Miller, Diaz could find himself on his back in frustration for the majority of five rounds.
Whenever Diaz is on his back during this fight, Miller is going to do everything he can to keep his opponent there. Diaz is excellent at fighting off of his back, but he is at his worst against a patient grappler who is able to hold him down and avoid submissions.
Diaz and Miller have 22 submission wins between the two of them, so they are both very dangerous on the ground. However, along with that submission offense, both competitors also have excellent submissions defense, as Diaz's submission loss to Hermes Franca in October 2006 was the only time either fighter has been forced to tap.
While either fighter is always capable of catching any opponent in a submission, it seems likely that the elite jiu-jitsu skills of these two fighters will cancel out, meaning there's a good chance this fight will go the distance.
Competing in the main event of a Fox-televised card may be something new for Diaz and Miller, but both fighters have plenty of experience in big fights and have been competing under the UFC banner for years.
Miller may enter his fights with a more calculated game plan, but it is Diaz's untamed attack and unpredictability that makes him the excellent fighter he has become.
While Diaz holds a edge in conditioning over most of his opponents, it will likely be negligible against a fast-paced opponent in Miller.
That being said, Diaz does have a significant reach advantage over Miller in this matchup, which, if used effectively, could help him to keep distance and avoid being taken down.
While Diaz may be a more talented fighter in many areas, Miller simply fits the profile of an opponent who would be able to get inside Diaz's head and beat him down mentally.
Miller's striking is just good enough to survive with Diaz, his jiu-jitsu is just good enough to avoid being submitted by Diaz and, most importantly, his wrestling is just good enough to take Diaz to the ground. Once he realizes he won't be able to submit Miller and can't keep the fight standing long enough to use his boxing, Diaz will start beating himself up.
As is customary when a fighter who is active off of his back loses a decision, there will be some debate, but Miller will leave no doubt in the minds of impartial fans about who the better fighter is between himself and Diaz.
Miller defeats Diaz by unanimous decision.