Jim Miller is steadily slipping from contender to perennial lightweight gatekeeper.
The New Jersey native was finished for the first time of his professional career by Nate Diaz in front of his hometown fans in East Rutherford at UFC on Fox 3 on Saturday night.
Diaz used his reach and pinpoint accuracy to outland Miller on the feet. Takedowns were expected to be the key for Miller, but he was stuffed on every shot in the open and negated in all attempts from the clinch.
By the end of the second round, Miller was bloodied and battered, and in typical Diaz fashion, Nate began to open up with trash talk and a volley of punches.
Miller made a last-ditch effort on a telegraphed takedown attempt which proved to be his undoing, as Diaz countered with a modified guillotine choke to net the tap at 4:09 of the second round.
What's next for Miller?
In such a stacked division, Miller has a long road ahead of him back to the top of the contender's column.
Here are five fights he should take next.
The UFC could opt to go the route of handing Miller a tough, middle-of-the-pack opponent.
In this case, Matt Wiman is a name that should be considered.
This is a bout that could jumpstart Miller back to his winning ways, while also keeping him sharp against tough opposition.
One of the more interesting clash in styles would be between Evan Dunham and Miller.
Dunham is an improved striker with world-class grappling skills that should rival even Miller's.
The timing could be perfect as well.
An injury recently forced Dunham to withdraw from his UFC 146 fight with Edson Barboza. Depending on the severity of the injury, he could be available to challenge Miller next.
Donald Cerrone is a bit tied up at the moment with Jeremy Stephens at UFC on Fuel 3, but if he manages to topple "Lil' Heathen," "Cowboy" should saddle up for a showdown with Miller.
It would certainly make for an interesting test for Miller. Cerrone is a strong and proficient striker with terrific takedown defense.
If this is the year Sean Sherk finally makes his Octagon return, there is no better opponent for the former UFC champ than Miller.
Sherk made the statement recently that he hopes to return this year, and he asked the UFC not to offer him any "chumps."
Miller fits that request to perfection.
A bout with Anthony Pettis would be the quickest way in launching Miller back to the forefront of the lightweight picture.
Coming off big wins over Joe Lauzon and Jeremy Stephens, Pettis is cruising toward a rematch with UFC champion Benson Henderson, who he defeated at WEC 53 in December 2010.
A win over Pettis would go a long way in erasing Miller's recent 1-2 stint.