UFC 172: Jim Miller vs. Donald Cerrone Is a Fight the UFC Has to Make

Matthew RyderFeatured ColumnistApril 27, 2014

Jim Miller, left, of Whippany, N.Y., and Fabricio Camoes, of San Diego, Calif., battle during a UFC 168 mixed martial arts lightweight bout on Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013, in Las Vegas. Miller won by a tap out in the first round. (AP Photo/David Becker)
David Becker

With so much going on in MMA these days, fans don't always get to see what they want. Sure, many love the idea of fights every weekend and plenty of them happening on free television, but that can come at a cost.

One such cost is the relatively linear process of matchmaking that the UFC had in place before the days of 50 cards a year and formalized rankings. There was a time, not long ago, that tuning into a post-fight press conference would net you a few juicy tidbits about the future.

Chances are if two guys meshed stylistically, were coming off good performances and were into fighting one another, Dana White would say on the spot that the fight would happen. Oftentimes, he'd even give you a date.

Now that's no longer practical, which is fine. The promotion is running events by the truckload, and it can't commit to making fights for guys months down the line simply because of the dynamic nature of the sport.

Proposed dates get adjusted. Proposed events get moved. Proposed opponents get injured.

You just can't say in April that two guys will fight in October anymore, because the odds are stacked against them both getting there in one piece or having a time and place to fight even if they do.

That said? Those factors be damned, the UFC absolutely has to announce Jim Miller versus Donald Cerrone as soon as possible.

A meeting between two fringe contenders who are closely clustered in the rankings is the exact type of fight you see on Fight Night cards these days. Actually, they usually headline, and Miller and Cerrone meet the criteria.

But these are two guys who have full-blown fanbases, guys who never take a night off and give fans what they want every time they're in the Octagon. Both men are hell on wheels, warriors who won't take a backward step until they've killed or been killed. There isn't a fan alive who has a bad thing to say about either, and there isn't a fan alive who wouldn't want to see them meet in the cage.

That's the type of thing that, for all the matches that need making on the bloated UFC schedule, needs to be factored in. It's an easy way to make a relevant fight, and one that will surely solicit some goodwill from those supporting the product.

Sure, Gegard Mousasi and Mark Munoz is an interesting fight. Absolutely, there is interest in Matt Brown and Erick Silva from segments of the fanbase. Benson Henderson and Rustam Khabilov is undeniably a compelling enough bout.

But did anyone ask for those? Are any of them fights that the fans or the fighters involved responded to by saying: "Yes! This has to happen!"

No. They're all competitive and intriguing in their own way, but nobody was clamoring for them.

In the proposed Miller-Cerrone bout, you have a construct that Miller has pushed for and Cerrone would obviously accept because, hey, he just needs to get that bread. He'll fight guys you've never heard of in places you didn't know existed if it means getting paid.

Besides that, the universal goodwill both men have accrued with the fans makes it the rare Fight Night headliner that would be anticipated as opposed to accepted. Fight fans watch fights because they're fans—they look forward to fights only when they're very special.

The promise for action makes Miller-Cerrone exactly that, and the likability and charisma of the combatants only adds to it.

So, though the chance for an immediate announcement has passed, the UFC needs to get on this one as soon as they can. They certainly have the calendar to find a slot for these two to fight, they just need to embrace the idea of it and draw up the contracts.

Fans will thank them, the fighters will get what they want and the UFC will look brilliant when the fight pays off in the form of guaranteed barn-burner.


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