Jim Miller's Plan for Donald Cerrone: 'Same as Always: Beat the Hell out of Him'

Hunter HomistekCorrespondent IJuly 14, 2014

USA Today

Jim Miller does not care for intricate game plans and elaborate schemes within the realm of combat. 

That's not to say the 30-year-old New Jersey native is some wild brawler with no technical skill, of course. You don't earn 18 fights (and counting) with the world's premier MMA organization and climb to the No. 7 spot in its rankings without a lot of that. 

He possesses the fighting acumen to defeat any 155-pound man on the planet, and this ability has led him to a 24-4 (one no-contest) record, toppling fighters such as Melvin Guillard, Joe Lauzon and Charles Oliveira along the way. 

And when Miller steps into the cage in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on July 16 to take on Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone in the UFC Fight Night 45 main event, he will keep his game plan short and to the point. He's here for business, and his business is putting his fists in his opponent's face.

"(The game plan is the) same as always: beat the hell out of him," Miller told Bleacher Report. "I'm going to fight as hard as I can for as long as I can and do damage, try to get him to make a mistake and when he does, capitalize." 

This, Miller admits, is no simple task. Cerrone is one spot up in the rankings at No. 6, and Miller has faltered against elite competition in the past. 

His four losses have come against Benson Henderson, Frankie Edgar, Gray Maynard and Nate Diaz—all former lightweight champions or title contenders. 

Cerrone challenged for the WEC lightweight strap three times, but never won it, failing to capitalize on a series of opportunities in 2009 and 2010. While Cowboy could never call himself a lightweight champion, Miller is not taking him lightly, and he's preparing for the toughest fight of his life on Wednesday. 

"I'm training better than I ever have," Miller said. "I really feel good going into the fight and I feel like I've had a great camp."

With a win over Cerrone, Miller would find himself knocking on lightweight champion Anthony Pettis' door, hoping for a response and the chance to challenge for the belt. 

But Pettis won't answer. He hasn't been home for a while and he's already scheduled to face Gilbert Melendez in January. By the time those two square off, the lightweight title will have lain dormant for almost a year and a half. 

In Miller's eyes, that's unacceptable, and he's combating his frustrations by remaining focused on what's directly in front of him. 

"Unfortunately, the title has been tied up for quite a while in my division, so it's gotten a little stagnant...You want to see activity, you want to see a champ that fights consistently, and Anthony hasn't really fought that consistently in the past couple years," Miller said.

"It's a little frustrating, but it's out of my mind. I'm focused on what I got in front of me, and, you know, I could fight another two times after Donald before the title fight even gets underway, so it's not even on my radar."

Jim Miller chokes out Melvin Guillard.
Jim Miller chokes out Melvin Guillard.Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

Right now, that's all he can do. Eyes forward, move along. 

With the lid to his career's casket creeping shut with every fight, Miller knows he needs to capitalize on what he has while he has it. Once it's done, it's done. There's no going back and reviving a breathless career. 

"I'm obviously understanding that, in the grand scheme of things, I'm probably a lot closer to the end of my career than the beginning, but I'm feeling good. Like I said, I'm training great now and everything seems to be dialed in," Miller said. "I'm not the type that will retire and come back. So, once I do it, that'll be it, my career will be a wrap. That time hasn't come yet." 

Home-court advantage awaits Miller Wednesday evening in Atlantic City, and the roar of the crowd as he walks out will hammer that last point home with authority. There's plenty of life and energy left in this beer-brewing, bird-blasting country boy from Sparta Township, New Jersey, and he's ready to enforce his will upon Cerrone and exit the cage with arguably the biggest win of his career. 

"I put pressure on guys, and he (Cerrone) hasn't done as well with guys who put pressure on him, so I think it is an advantage for me," Miller said. "I don't necessarily fight to hear the roar of the crowd, but it definitely does give me that extra push, that extra energy. I do feed off of it. I'm excited for a good group of fans, and hopefully I'll put on a show for them."