Why Cole Miller Got the Much-Desired Shot at Conor McGregor

Dana BeckerContributor IIMay 14, 2014

Cole Miller will head to Ireland later this year and welcome Conor McGregor back from knee surgery.
Cole Miller will head to Ireland later this year and welcome Conor McGregor back from knee surgery.USA TODAY Sports

UFC featherweight Conor McGregor called out just about everyone the division has to offer, from champion Jose Aldo to top contender Chad Mendes. He even made it known that lightweights were in his sights such as Diego Sanchez.

But McGregor won't be making his return later this year from a knee injury against Aldo, Mendes or Sanchez. No, he'll face Cole Miller at UFC Fight Night 46 from Dublin.

Why Miller? Good question.

Miller (21-8) is coming off back-to-back victories inside the Octagon over Sam Sicilia and Andy Ogle, two unranked fighters. The 30-year-old, though, has a resume that features names like Manny Gamburyan, Ross Pearson, Dan Lauzon, Jeremy Stephens and Leonard Garcia.

He's fought in the UFC since appearing on The Ultimate Fighter in 2007, going an overall 10-6. Is he the toughest test to date for McGregor? Likely.

Will McGregor improve his stock in the division? That's the real question.

McGregor (14-2) has looked strong in his two initial UFC fights, finishing Marcus Brimage last year and scoring a decision over Max Holloway. But he's returning from knee surgery, and you can bet the UFC wants to build him up.

Miller allows the promotion to do that because of his experience and resume, and he's also provided that extra spark by taking to social media and egging McGregor, who is always at the ready for verbal battles, as the two displayed during a previous episode of The MMA Hour.

If McGregor looks as good as he has against Brimage and Holloway, he should be able to do what Gamburyan, Steven Siler and Matt Wiman have in the past and handle the tough Miller. A finish would go a long way in shooting his stock up the rankings, as Miller hasn't been knocked out since a 2009 loss to Efrain Escudero. 

And if Miller should pull the upset and stun McGregor in front of his fans overseas, the UFC can push him into the role of possible contender.