Miller takes on Maynard!
Story by Anthony Springer Jr
With names like BJ Penn, Kenny Florian, Sean Sherk and Diego Sanchez hovering about, UFC’s lightweight division is absolutely filled to the brim with talent. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for one more.
Jim Miller seeks to enter his name in the lightweight sweepstakes at UFC 96 when he takes on the undefeated Gray Maynard in an intriguing matchup that is important to both fighters’ young careers in the octagon.
Miller has been impressive since entering into the UFC last October (along with his brother Dan Miller) and earning victories against David Baron and Matt Wiman with his superb ground and submission game. Although those victories and his previous reigns as Reality Fighting’s and Cage Fury’s Lightweight champions are quite impressive on his resume, a victory against Maynard could propel him into the top ten lightweights in the UFC.
Maynard’s MMA record is unblemished at 6-0, but Miller is no slouch in MMA either, having only lost once in fourteen fights (2006’s unanimous decision to Frank Edgar). With what is quite possibly his greatest test to date in front of him, Miller insists that he hasn’t prepared for this fight any differently than his previous matches.
“Maynard is a tough guy and he has good control on the ground but I tend to not really make game plans for people and train differently,” Miller explains. “I’m just not satisfied where my game is in all aspects. I wouldn’t feel good neglecting a certain area in preparation for somebody. I train the same for every fight.”
What makes this matchup interesting is Miller’s sub game against Maynard’s superb wrestling pedigree. “Wrestlers always present certain problems when it comes to the submissions game,” he reveals. “When I started out, I know what I was susceptible. I still get to train with wresters now and I know what weaknesses they bring to the table. I’ll just try to keep attacking from everywhere. I’ll just go in there and throw everything that I have at him.”
When looking at the end result of Miller’s victories, a similar trend is apparent – submission by choke. He’s ended fights in a variety of choke submissions: Triangle Choke, Rear Naked Choke, Arm Triangle Choke, Guillotine Choke. So is it reasonable that this fight end in similar fashion?
“Yeah,” Miller answers when asked if he foresees finishing Maynard with any variation of the choke. “When the fight goes through my head, that’s what I want. That’s what we’re shooting for in this fight. If I can take his arm or a leg or knock him out, I’ll take that too.”
Taking a look at the impressive matchup for UFC 96, one can see some potential fight of the year candidates. Quinton Jackson and Keith Jardine are sure to have fireworks while Shane Carwin and Gabriel Gonzaga could also put on a great showing. But Miller has reason to believe that he and fellow mat specialist Maynard could very well pull the rug up from under the main event and go home with fight of the night honors – just as long as Maynard makes it to the final bell.
“There’s potential for fight of the night honors,” he says. “I’m going to really try and keep the pace high and keep coming after him. If he survives the whole fight, I think we can get fight of the night. I’m just going to try and put him through the ringer and attack every which way I can.”
If Jim Miller is able to get past Maynard, 2009 will immediately look bright for his future prospects in the octagon. Any one of the top lightweights would suit Miller perfect in a later fight.
“There are so many tough guys in the division,” Miller explains when looking toward the rest of ’09 if he can get past Maynard. “I would like to fight any of them. They all propose a different challenge. Whether it be a (Clay) Guida or a Diego (Sanchez). Kenny Florian and all of these guys present a fantastic challenge that’s a tough fight with every one of them. I have to train hard and get better so I can beat one of them.”