With the competitive lightweight division only getting hotter, Jim Miller finds himself in a make-or-break situation. It wasn't long ago the New Jersey native was putting together a seven-fight win streak that had him knocking on the door of a title shot, but after dropping two of his last three outings, Miller's back is against the wall heading into his bout with Joe Lauzon this weekend at UFC 155.
The opportunity to fight Lauzon arose when former No. 1 contender Gray Maynard was forced to withdraw from the bout due to injury. When the UFC tapped Miller to face the season 5 TUF alum, the 29-year-old saw the perfect situation develop which would allow him remain a factor in a heated race in the 155-pound weight class.
“This fight comes at the right time and is a perfect opportunity to get back to where I want to be," Miller told Bleacher Report. "For this camp, I’ll get about six weeks. Some people consider that short notice, but I’m not one of them. Short notice to me means a couple of weeks. As long as you are not walking around too heavy, you should be able to make the weight by fight night. If you can’t do that in six weeks, you really need to question your commitment to being a professional fighter."
It is often said in MMA that styles make fights and the stylistic similarities between Miller and Lauzon make this matchup extremely interesting. Both men have shown to have solid power in their hands, but the dominant skill set for Miller and Lauzon comes when the action hits the canvas.
Much like his counterpart, Miller has proven to have slick submission skills. While he believes there are areas he would hold advantages, Miller is pumped up and looking forward to mixing it up with a talented fighter with Lauzon's credentials.
“Joe is a dangerous opponent,” Miller said. “He is very skilled on the ground and is a solid fighter. Judging from his past fights, it looks like he hits pretty hard as well. He’s an aggressive fighter, and I typically have done very well against guys who come at me that way. I think it is going to be a great matchup stylistically and I’m really looking forward to it.
"I think I’ll have an advantage in the strength department, but I put far more focus on the technique aspect. Technique should beat strength every time, and the little details are going to be important in this fight."
While a victory over Lauzon won't put Miller in a position to fight for the UFC title, a loss would threaten to push him out of the division's coveted top 10 rankings. As things continue to heat up in one of the UFC's most talent-rich weight classes, Miller fully understands the situation at hand, and knows it is crucial for him to emerge victorious at UFC 155.
“This division has been crazy," Miller said. "After the title rematches and what not, things are flowing again. But when everything was tied up because of the rematches, there were a few of us who went good runs. Then it just so happens over that time, pretty much all of us lost, and now things look completely different. I’m trying to claw my way back up the ladder and put another streak together.
"Fighting for the title has always been my goal. I'm going to do whatever it takes to put myself in that position. I'm ready to get back to the win column. I’m coming to fight. I’m coming to beat him up and put him away. I don’t like close fights, and I don’t want them. I want to go in there and dominate every time I fight. Fans need to be ready for a Jim Miller who is coming out on fire and ready to get after it."
Duane Finley is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report's Caged In. All quotes are obtained first hand unless noted otherwise.