While Nate Marquardt and Rousimar Palhares will do battle in the main event of this Wednesday’s UFC Fight Night (LIVE at 8 p.m. ET on Spike from the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas), it’s almost entirely about the lightweights on Wednesday night, starting with Ross Pearson.
When the lightweight winner of The Ultimate Fighter: Team US vs. Team UK steps into the Octagon on Wednesday night to take on Cole Miller, it’ll be the first of three lightweight bouts on the main card, followed by Jim Miller’s matchup with Gleison Tibau and TUF 8 winner Efrain Escudero’s co-main event against Charles Oliveira.
The lightweight-stacked Fight Night leads into the premiere of The Ultimate Fighter: Team GSP vs. Team Koscheck, as 28 lightweights take their first steps toward a six-figure UFC contract.
As his fight with the TUF 5 alum Miller approaches, the Team Rough House fighter recently took time to talk to UltimateFighter.com and Bleacher Report.
So, how’s the preparation for the fight been?
The preparation for the fight’s been great. I did another six-day-a-week camp like I did for the Aaron Riley fight, and things have gone perfect. I’ve traveled, you could say, all over the world. I’ve been training down in Nottingham at Rough House like I always do. I also trained in a new Muay Thai gym in Manchester, Salford Thai. I also went out to New York to train with Frankie Edgar at Rutgers and at Ricardo Almeida’s gym, so it’s been a few miles in the gym, and it’s been great. I enjoyed it all.
Training at so many different gyms, is it hard to keep a focus on exactly what you’re going to need to do with Cole Miller?
No, I don’t find it hard at all. At every gym I’ve gone to, I’ve done nothing but get ready for this fight. Each gym I’ve gone to, they’ve all got their own ideas about how I should fight Cole Miller, and pretty much, I’ve heard what they all had to say, I take the ideas that everyone’s put together, and with everyone that I’ve trained with, I think this should be my best performance to date with all the help and the training that I’ve done. I’m 100 percent confident going into the fight.
And what you see the biggest challenges that Cole presents are? How do you see this fight shaping up?
Definitely, the biggest challenge for me is if the fight goes to the floor. Cole is just really good and talented on the floor. He’s pulled off some slick submissions. He’s very active; he doesn’t rest like some of the guys you see. He goes in there to finish fights, which I admire.
I go in there wanting to finish fights, so definitely the ground game’s going to be the tricky part. I think the key for me to finish this fight is to keep the fight where I want the fight, and to punish him every time he tries to take the fight where he wants to. I feel confident that if I land my shots, I don’t think he’ll be able to take me down. I think I’ll put him away.
You mention taking the fight to the floor, and certainly, the last round of fights that some of your teammates at Rough House have had, that’s been a problem, with Dan Hardy against GSP, Andre Winner a couple of weeks ago against Nik Lentz, and of course, Paul Daley with Koscheck. How much of an issue do you think that’s going to be, going forward? Is it a relief not to have an opponent who’s a big wrestler the way those guys have had?
Well you know, with those guys, they got outwrestled in the fight, they got controlled in the fight, but Dan and Paul Daley fought two of the best wrestlers in mixed martial arts in the world, pound-for-pound. They expected to get taken down and work off their back, work back to the feet. With Andre, it was one of them disappointing fights where Nik Lentz just didn’t want to fight Andre and he just controlled him. It was pretty boring, you know? It was sad to watch, watching a teammate not being able to fight the way he likes to fight. He got controlled against the fence. I don’t think Cole is a similar kind of fighter. I think Cole goes in there, win or lose, to finish the fight. I think it’s a total different style of opponent, and I think the more active he is, makes more space for me to be able to do what I like to do, gives me more area where I can unload.
Now, since the GSP fight, Dan has spent more time out here, specifically to focus on wrestling. As you progress in your career, to the point where you might have to go up against a Frankie Edgar or a Gray Maynard, a wrestler like that, is that something you could see doing at any point, coming to the US to focus on wrestling?
Definitely. It opened me eyes a lot to get the chance to go out train with Frankie Edgar and the Rutgers wrestling team, just to see what I needed to improve, and what I needed to do to get to the level of these guys. I’m never going to learn it back at home, where none of the guys are advanced masters of wrestling, you know? I have to come out here to the States to train with these guys, or I have to bring those guys to my gym back in England, so either way, I’m going to be learning the wrestling. I’m not stupid to think that I’m going to beat these guys just by watching, you know? You need to get in there and train with these guys, develop your game.
And I know that Dan had actually been criticized for his move by Michael Bisping in some of his recent interviews, suggesting that living in the States for long stretches, as he has been, has somehow made him less English. When you have someone who’s a teammate like Dan and someone who was your coach on The Ultimate Fighter, like Michael, is it tough to find neutral ground there? Do you come down on one side or the other, or do you just try to stay as far away from that as possible?
First of all, I think the comments that Mike made about Dan, I think that got a little bit blown out of proportion. I know what Mike’s like and what Mike’s sense of humor is like. He didn’t mean anything by it toward Dan. It was just like speaking to friends, you know what I mean? I think it got blown out of proportion a little bit. I think Mike’s sense of humor, it got blown out of proportion with the way that he says things. I don’t think that Dan living in the States with his girlfriend makes him any less British. I think Dan enjoys the American lifestyle, the American culture, and Mike’s a little bit different. He enjoys being in England, and the way we live in Britain. I think everyone’s a bit different. I enjoy living in England, but I also enjoy coming out to the States and training with these guys, so I’m sort of stuck on the fence.
And you do get to see a lot of the States. Your last fight was in North Carolina, you’re fighting in Texas on Wednesday, you mentioned spending time in New York and New Jersey, do you have any favorites of the places that you’ve visited and seen and trained in, in the US?
Yeah, that’s one of the parts of the job that I love. You get to see the world, and I also get to fight in these cities. Not many jobs get to travel the world like what I’ve got, so I’m very grateful for what I do, and I’m just honored to be where I am. As far as favorites, I enjoyed New Jersey. I thought it was a beautiful place. Great people there. I enjoyed my time there.
Now, after the Fight Night on Wednesday, they’re going into another season of The Ultimate Fighter, and it’s an all-lightweight season. It’s the third time in the last five seasons they’ve featured lightweights as at least one of the weight classes. What do you think the best thing is about seeing all these lightweights on The Ultimate Fighter?
I think with lightweights, the style of fighting is just entertaining. I think that they’ve got some of the best fights in all the divisions, and I think the lightweight division right now is probably one of the most talent-filled of any of the divisions. I just feel like the fights are entertaining, and people like to see the lightweights fight. People like watching big guys fight as well, but I think it’s more entertaining to see the lightweights go at it, the wrestling, the jiu-jitsu, the boxing, and mix all these things up to create a fight.