There is no way to paint Jim Miller's fight with Joe Lauzon as anything other than an emphatic, important win for the longtime lightweight contender. Joe Lauzon is a great, popular fighter, and Miller absolutely dominated him standing en route to an unanimous-decision victory.
Still, he finds himself in a relatively awkward position when it comes to a title shot. After all, he was absolutely destroyed by both Ben Henderson and Nate Diaz in bouts that show up on the highlight reels for either one of them. What could possibly be next on his plate?
While Miller still has strong wrestling chops and demonstrated improved stand-up, there simply isn't a case for a title shot anywhere in the near future. His win against Lauzon gives him precisely one fight in his current streak, and he was beaten down by current champion Ben Henderson in lopsided fashion when the two met up.
On top of that, Dana White is suggesting that Bendo's next opponent should be Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez. After that, it may finally be time for Anthony Pettis's chance to reassert himself as the winner of their WEC 53 encounter. Past those two, there is Eddie Alvarez (when he finally signs with the UFC), Donald Cerrone and Gray Maynard, who have to be closer to a title shot than Miller.
Because of that, Jim Miller just needs to stay focused on his next opponent. The lightweight title picture simply does not include him at this time. That, however, should not deter him from just getting back on the horse and stringing together wins.
There are, at this time, a load of up-and-coming lightweights that could use a true test of whether or not they are ready for the big time.
What Jim Miller should have done was call out either Alvarez or Melendez. Either fighter has quite the fanbase and, upon coming to the UFC, could use a tough test to determine whether or not they are truly high-tier lightweight material.
A bout against Alvarez makes a great deal of sense from a matchmaking perspective. For Miller, personally, a bout against Melendez is both favorable stylistically and, should Melendez actually get that fight against Ben Henderson, would potentially plant the seeds of a title shot.
With that off the table, however, Rafael dos Anjos is most certainly worth mentioning here. Dos Anjos is 7-2 in his last nine and is currently riding a three-fight winning streak. His most recent fight was the lopsided beatdown of Mark Bocek at UFC 154.
The winner of UFC on Fox 6's TJ Grant vs. Matt Wiman would also be a compelling fight for Miller, depending on how that fight shakes out. Both fighters in that bout find themselves climbing the ranks of the UFC's lightweight division and, should they score a particularly impressive victory, need a legitimate test of whether or not they are contender material.
Last but not least, because that is how things are trending, it is worth bringing up a couple of Strikeforce imports that Jim Miller could face. Pat Healy and Jorge Masvidal would both make solid matchups for Miller and would work for the UFC in terms of separating the chaff from the wheat.
So, Jim Miller has himself some options. While he may have, in some ways, found himself outshined by Lauzon's gutsy performance, there is no ignoring his victory.
Miller already finds himself back on the title track. All he needs to do now is get some wins.
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