UFC 168 Results: Can Jim Miller Ever Be More Than a Legitimate Gatekeeper?

Hunter Homistek@HunterAHomistekCorrespondent IDecember 29, 2013

Dec 28, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA;    Jim Miller (red gloves) and Fabricio Camoes (blue gloves) fight during their UFC lightweight bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

Jim Miller finished his UFC 168 matchup against Fabricio Camoes in stunning fashion. 

After being reversed on the ground by the third-degree Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Camoes, Miller's prospects looked bleak. 

The New Jersey native quickly flipped the script, however, locking up a beautiful armbar (gif courtesy of Zombie Prophet) and forcing his opponent to tap at 3:42 into the round. 

The finish was brutally elegant, and it perfectly showcased just how dangerous Miller can be from his back. 

Amazing as it was, this performance did little to elevate Miller's stock beyond gatekeeper status. 

Impressively finishing lesser opponents is nothing new to Mr. Miller. 

He has submitted Charles Oliveira and Melvin Guillard, and he has knocked out Kamal Shalorus inside the Octagon. 

Against top-tier competition, however, he falters. 

In the past two and a half years, Miller has lost to Nate Diaz and Benson Henderson. He was also submitted by Pat Healy at UFC 159 in April 2013, but that result was later overturned to a no-contest after Healy tested positive for marijuana use in the post-fight drug screening.

Against Camoes, Miller looked good, but the finish came after some uninspiring standup and a reversal by his opponent once the fight hit the mat. 

It was the Miller we knew and loved, the Miller who could finish non-top-10 opponents. 

There was nothing in his standup that showed evolution, and the armbar, while technically brilliant, was not totally unexpected from him. 

While Camoes boasts excellent jiu-jitsu credentials, he has now been submitted four times in MMA action, so Miller was not the first man to exploit holes in his submission defense in an MMA setting. 

Miller, unfortunately, is just getting older, and, if you look at his fight against Healy as a loss (which, really, it was), he is just 3-3 in his past six contests. 

His skill set is excellent, but he just does not possess the explosiveness or perfectly polished game of the division's elite. 

That, my friends, is the very definition of a gatekeeper, and that is not necessarily a bad thing. 

Beating fringe top-10 UFC contenders on a regular basis is no easy task, and Miller makes his living doing just that. 

Unfortunately, I do not see him climbing above this level now or ever, and the rest of Miller's career will be relegated to separating contenders from pretenders inside the lightweight division.