Jim Miller got back in the win column in December, and did so in the kind of way that makes people remember.
His all-out war with Joe Lauzon left him with a unanimous decision victory at UFC 155, a “Fight of the Night” bonus and frontrunner status for “Fight of the Year.”
So why is he still kinda irked about the whole thing?
Miller (22-4 MMA, 11-3 UFC) on Saturday meets Pat Healy (29-16 MMA, 0-1 UFC) to open up the main card of UFC 159 in his home state of New Jersey. And though his sites are squarely on the task at hand, part of the motivation for his next opponent comes from the Lauzon fight.
“People still talk about it. That’s the cool thing about it – it left a mark in the minds of the fans,” Miller told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio). “I’m still a little disappointed. I thought I should have finished him in the first. I had him hurt, I had him wobbled, and I wasn’t able to. Heading back to the gym for this fight, that’s what was on my mind – if I have someone hurt, how do I put him away and capitalize on it?”
Not being able to finish Lauzon certainly is nothing for most fighters to hang their heads over. The guy has five “Fight of the Night” bonuses of his own.
And that gives Miller at least a little bit of pause when he critiques himself and beats himself up over that fight.
“He’s a tough dude,” Miller said. “He’s a bad guy, man. He kept coming and just kept the pressure on, and fortunately I was able to take enough energy out of him the first 14 1/2 minutes – but his ability to still be able to throw them out there was impressive.”
Now Miller gets Healy, and he’ll be looking for his third win in four fights. Healy crossed over from Strikeforce, and Miller was pretty certain the next name that came down the line was going to be someone from that now-shuttered promotion.
From that angle, he’s more than happy to usher some of the new guys into the UFC.
“It was easy for me (to take the fight),” Miller said. “I expected him or (Josh) Thomson. They had quite a few guys coming over from Strikeforce, and you’ve got to file them into the ranks rand see where they stand. He’s one of the guys I knew would be on the list.”
Just what level does Miller hope to show Healy in terms of where he stands? That’s simple.
His own harshest critic, Miller said he won’t be fully satisfied without a decisive finish.
“To have him laying face-down on the canvas in the first round (is what I want),” he said. “I’m trying to fight perfect, and if I fight perfect, guys aren’t going to go the distance with me. I was satisfied with the fight with Joe. I’ve never been more tired. I used him as a pillow for a brief moment. I was dead tired. But I really just like to finish guys. I’ve had good performances, but I’m a real stickler and I don’t think I’m ever going to be satisfied.”
A convincing win over a game Healy would have people bringing Miller’s name up in lightweight title contention again, the way it was while he was on a seven-fight run that was snapped by Benson Henderson in August 2011.
But Miller knows it might take a little more than a big win to get his name out there with the powers-that-be. UFC President Dana White already has announced that the May winner between T.J. Grant and Gray Maynard gets the next crack at Henderson, who just this past week defended his title against Gilbert Melendez.
And Miller hopes to change that.
“It all comes down to timing and performances,” he said. “I’m looking to make a statement on Saturday night. I’m hoping Dana forgets all the things he just said about the Maynard-Grant fight. It’s happened before. Nothing’s guaranteed about a No. 1 contender spot. I might (have to do some talking). But I plan on making some noise with my fists and my elbows and my knees.”
For more on UFC 159, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.
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