The UFC lightweight division just got a lot more interesting with Jim Miller’s exciting knockout over Kamal Shalorus at UFC 128. With the win, Miller improved his UFC record to 9-1 and proved that he is deserving of a shot at Frankie Edgar’s 155 pound crown.
Miller brought an 11-1 record to the UFC when he debuted at UFC 89 when he faced French fighter, David Baron. Baron was a Pride veteran who holds two victories over former welterweight No. 1 contender, Dan Hardy. The tightly contested battle was eventually ended when Miller submitted Barron with a rear naked choke in the first round.
After another victory at UFC Fight Night 16: Fight for the Troops over Matt Wiman, matchmakers decided that Miller was ready for undefeated lightweight Gray Maynard.
The two young up-and-comers at the time, Miller and Maynard, entered the cage with a combined 19-1-1 record in their careers. The fight was the opening bout of the UFC 96: Jackson vs. Jardine event in May 2009.
Miller was in just his third UFC fight and hadn’t faced an elite level talent like Maynard in the company yet. Whether it was nerves or just Maynard being the superior fighter, Miller lost a clear unanimous decision in a fight he simply did not seem ready to take.
Gray Maynard is generally known as being the type of fighter who brings his opponent to the ground and uses ground-and-pound to keep superior position and try to finish the fight. But in this fight, Miller was the one looking to bring the fight to the ground after Maynard had established in the first round that he was the superior striker.
Fighters are often never the same following a discouraging loss like the one Miller took that night. However, the New Jersey native would not be held down.
Miller bounced right back, winning a unanimous decision over The Ultimate Fighter 6 winner, Mac Danzig. The one-sided beatdown was arguably the best performance of Miller’s career as a disgustingly bloodied Danzig had no answer for anything Miller tried to do.
Though Mac Danzig wasn’t considered a top contender, the victory was an important one for Miller to get back in the “win” column and prove that the loss to Maynard did not mentally affect him.
Since the loss to Maynard, Jim Miller had won six straight fights, bringing his record to 19-2 for his fight against the undefeated Kamal Shalorus at UFC 128.
In a fight that many believe should have been awarded with the “Fight of the Night” bonus, Miller and Shalorus stood and exchanged punches for two rounds. Miller used superior technique and timing to pick apart his Iranian opponent before landing a punishing uppercut followed by a knee that dropped him to the ground.
With the victory, Miller moved to 9-1 in the UFC and made his desire for a title shot very obvious in a post-fight interview with Joe Rogan.
“That’s seven in a row. Seven in a row in arguably the toughest division in the UFC, “ exclaimed Miller. “I’m ready. I’m ready for it.”
The No. 1 contendership is expected to be on the line at The Ultimate Fighter 13 Finale when Clay Guida will face the last WEC Lightweight Champion, Anthony “Showtime” Pettis.
Pettis was originally scheduled to face the winner of Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard, but his title shot was postponed when Edgar and Maynard fought to a draw at UFC 125.
But regardless of who wins that fight, a case could very easily be made that Jim Miller deserves the title shot over either man. A seven-fight win streak in the UFC is something that cannot be taken lightly, especially when he is fighting other very talented fighters.
UFC President, Dana White, agrees and recently bragged about Miller to FanHouse’s Ariel Helwani.
“I love that kid man, he’s a pit bull,” White said. “He’s always in great shape and he keeps improving and getting better. The kid is in a nasty division so we’ll see what happens.”
Though White stopped short at saying Miller was next in line for a title shot, the numbers point to that as being a fairly realistic possibility.
Miller’s detractors will say that he doesn’t deserve the title shot based on the fact that his only two losses have come at the hands of the two men who will be fighting for the title on May 28. But that type of thinking has been wrong, time and time again.
Imagine if Georges St-Pierre never got a rematch with Matt Hughes. Imagine if Brock Lesnar never got a rematch with Frank Mir. Imagine if BJ Penn never got a rematch with Jens Pulver.
Fighters evolve, and Jim Miller has proven his evolution as a fighter with the success he has had both on the ground and standing up since his losses to Maynard and Edgar.
The UFC can keep putting off his title shot if they want to, but there may not be another person in the world at 155 pounds, aside from Edgar or Maynard, who can beat Jim Miller.
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