UFC Fight Night 45: Donald Cerrone vs. Jim Miller Full Head-to-Toe Breakdown
This Wednesday night, a pivotal fight takes place in the lightweight division when Donald Cerrone squares off against Jim Miller in Atlantic City.
Cerrone is on a three-fight win streak, all of which were finishes that he earned fight-night bonuses for. The fight against Miller will arguably be Cerrone's biggest fight since a first-round TKO loss to Anthony Pettis in 2013.
Miller comes into the fight having won three of his last four, and his last two in a row. Both of his last two wins have been first-round submissions, while his other win was a unanimous decision which won Fight of the Night.
Both fighters may only be one or two wins from a title shot, so let's check out who has the edge in this important lightweight fight.
Donald Cerrone is known for his impressive Muay Thai striking. In addition to his MMA career, Cerrone has kickboxed professionally, where he has a 28-0-1 record. Although he only has three MMA wins by (T)KO, he is able to use his striking to directly set up his submissions.
Jim Miller has also scored only three wins by (T)KO in his career, although one was by doctor stoppage, one by injury and one came over Kamal Shalorus back in 2011.
Miller's striking isn't considered bad, but it's just not at the same level as Cerrone's.
Where Jim Miller shines is in his grappling. Miller was a Division I wrestler at Virginia Tech and holds a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under Jamie Cruz.
Miller is able to score takedowns and have the fight take place where he wants it to. In addition, he was only the second person to last a full 15 minutes in the cage with incredibly dangerous grappler Joe Lauzon.
Cerrone isn't a bad grappler, but he is largely a submission fighter when it comes to the ground. Cerrone has developed his guard so much that he is comfortable on his back if he gets taken down, which Miller is likely to do at some point.
This is a tough category to call. Both Cerrone and Miller have scored double-digit submission victories in their careers, so we'll have to look at their competition.
Cerrone has scored 15 of his 23 wins by submission. Throughout his career he has submitted Edson Barboza, Evan Dunham, Dennis Siver and more. Cerrone has also been submitted once in his career, back in 2010 in a fight against Benson Henderson for the WEC lightweight title.
Miller has finished 13 of his 24 victories with submissions, including three of his last four wins. Miller has submitted fighters such as Melvin Guillard, Fabrício Camoes, Charles Oliveira, Duane Ludwig and more. Miller has been submitted twice in his career, although only one shows up on his official record.
The first submission loss was to Nate Diaz with a guillotine choke in a title eliminator fight in 2012. The second was a loss to Pat Healy in 2013, which was later overturned when Healy tested positive for marijuana.
These two are incredibly close when it comes to submissions, but if I had to give one person the edge, I'd give it to Cerrone.
Don't expect Cerrone to do anything different from what he normally does. He's going to come out to fight his fight and look for the win. Whether he gets the opportunity while striking or while grappling won't matter. He'll be ready to fight anywhere.
Miller has serious intensity when he steps in the cage. He brings the action and forces constant pressure. If he does that well, and is able to keep up his cardio for the duration of the fight, he absolutely has a chance to overwhelm Cerrone late in the fight.
This fight has the potential to end any way. Either fighter could submit the other, either could knock out the other or either could win the decision. Cerrone and Miller are just that evenly matched.
It's going to be difficult for Miller to stop Cerrone. The only people to ever do it are Benson Henderson in 2010 and Anthony Pettis in 2013. If Miller wins, it will probably be a decision.
Miller has been stopped twice in his career, once by Nate Diaz and once by Pat Healy—even though it was later overturned to a no-contest, it still happened. No disrespect to Diaz and Healy, but if they can submit Miller, then Cerrone definitely could too. Cerrone may score a second- or third-round submission win, but, if not, he'll probably still win a decision victory.
Prediction: Donald Cerrone wins by unanimous decision.