Once again, Jim Miller has proven his case that he deserves to be considered among the best in the world at 155 pounds. At UFC 124 he made quick work of hot prospect and devastating finisher Charles Oliveira.
Miller, the older and more experienced fighter, locked on a vicious kneebar to get the submission victory at 1:59 in the very first round.
Oliveira, the youngest fighter in the UFC, was previously undefeated through 14 fights. His last two fights in the UFC both earned him Submission of the Night honors. He is a young kid with tremendous tools who just needs more experience under his belt to become a great fighter.
Jim Miller already has that distinction. He has won his last six fights. He is 8-1 since joining the UFC. His only two career losses came at the hands of current UFC Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar and to the No. 1 contender, the only man to defeat Edgar, Gray Maynard. Both losses came by way of decision.
So what happens next for each fighter?
Charles Oliveira’s first lesson of the night was that experience gives a fighter an advantage. Jim Miller was the more patient fighter. He found his opening and turned it into a victory. Oliveira now needs to focus on getting more experience under his belt.
Joe “Daddy” Stevenson, could be an interesting next opponent for Oliveira. Both fighters are coming off decisive first-round losses at UFC 124. Both have strong Jiu-Jitsu, but Stevenson is definitely the more well-rounded and experienced fighter.
Oliveira will need to prove himself against veteran fighters like Stevenson if he wants to stick around the UFC for much longer.
Charles Oliveira could also find himself facing fan favorite Tyson Griffin.
Tyson Griffin was well on his way to becoming a Lightweight title contender until he suffered three consecutive losses in 2010. The last was a very controversial split decision loss to Nik Lentz, which many, including UFC President Dana White, believed should have gone to Griffin.
While Griffin has a lot of work to do to get back to the top of the division, he is still dangerous. He has six Fight of the Night honors to his credit and would certainly bring the fight to Oliveira.
But what is next for Jim Miller?
After the fight, Jim Miller made it clear that he wants shot at the Lightweight title. The only problem is, there is no title shot to be had. Frankie Edgar will defend the UFC Lightweight title against Gray Maynard at UFC 125 on Jan. 1.
Benson Henderson will defend the WEC Lightweight title against Anthony Pettis at WEC 53 on Dec. 16. Then the two remaining title holders will square off to unify the belts.
Somewhere along the line, Miller will need another victory to earn himself a title shot. The quickest way to get there is to beat a contender. Jim Miller may find himself facing one of the losers of one of these bouts, whoever that might be.
Or he just may find himself facing Kenny Florian. For years Ken Flo has played second fiddle in the UFC Lightweight division. He is a great fighter who is always learning, always evolving, and always improving.
Even though Florian is coming off a tough loss to Gray Maynard, he is still considered one of the top Lightweights in the world.
Florian’s loss to Maynard exposed a major hole in his game, so he has been training his wrestling to fix this flaw. A fight with Jim Miller would give Florian another shot at a Division 1 wrestler and a chance to prove his wrestling ability.
Meanwhile, a victory over two-time contender Florian could finally put Miller in the title picture, which is exactly where he wants to be.
These two are set to square off next month at UFC: Fight For The Troops 2 and when they do, expect to see a lot of happy troopers. This should be an explosive fight and the winner could meet Jim Miller next.
Guillard would make a tough opponent for anybody. He’s an exciting fighter who has real knockout power. Since joining Greg Jackson’s camp, he has had three fights in 2010 and won each of them, showing marked improvements in his patience and technique.
Dunham has been nearly unstoppable since his UFC debut. The only blemish on his 11-1 record comes from a recent controversial split decision loss to former UFC Lightweight Champ Sean Sherk. The loss still managed to earn him Fight of the Night and acknowledgement from Dana White that he was “f-ing robbed.”
Dunham is one of the most promising young fighters in the division and is incredibly dangerous standing up and on the ground. He can strike, has an outstanding Jiu-Jitsu game, and excellent submission defense that could give Jim Miller trouble.
It is very possible that Jim Miller meets the winner of Dunham vs. Guillard in a title eliminator.
But then again...
The deepest division in the UFC is about to get a whole lot deeper. Longtime Zuffa sister promotions UFC and WEC have finally merged. WEC 53 next week on Dec. 16 will be that promotion’s final card. Afterwards, its roster is getting folded into the UFC’s.
This doesn’t change a thing for the Bantamweight and Featherweight divisions, but the WEC Lightweights will now be part of the largest division in the UFC, a division that already had its fair share of standouts.
Fans will be able to see the best from both organizations finally face off, which will include a Champion vs. Champion match to unify the Lightweight Title.
The year 2011 will see copious amounts of Lightweight action as fighters in this new mega-division try to figure out where they stand.
Below are three matchups from WEC 53, whose participants might be in store for Oliveira or Miller.
Donald Cerrone vs. Chris Horodecki
Kamal Shalorus vs. Bart Palascewski
Jamie Varner vs. Shane Roller
Regardless of what comes next for Jim Miller and Charles Oliveira...It’s a bad time to be a Lightweight fighter, and a good time to be a fight fan.