Nate Diaz vs Jim Miller

Dana White has said that if Nate Diaz were to defeat Jim Miller, he would earn a title shot against the UFC lightweight champion. Unfortunately for Miller, he was not given that same stipulation in his Cinco De Mayo showdown with Diaz.

Jim Miller was the man that everyone wanted to see fight for the title in early 2011. Some people felt that he had done enough to earn a title shot at that point in time. If it wasn’t for the draw between Edgar and Maynard, he possibly could have fought for the title. He was on a seven fight win streak as he defeated Mac Danzig, Steve Lopez, Duane “Bang” Ludwig, Mark Bocek, Gleison Tibau, Charles Oliveira, and Kamal Shalorus. The highlight of the streak was the kneebar he locked Oliveira with. It was beautiful, it must have been thrilling for Miller considering Oliveira was saying that his BJJ was at a higher level than Miller’s.

He was then set to face Benson Henderson at UFC Live on the Versus Channel, a fight that Miller was heavily favored in. In the first round, Miller went for a spectacular flying arm triangle choke! But Henderson defended well, took the fight to the ground and proceeded to have one of the greatest one-sided fights in MMA history. Every once in a while, Miller would throw a submission attempt, but Henderson would casually defend and pound Miller’s face in. Henderson took the decision win, would go on to beat Guida and then Edgar to become the current UFC lightweight champion. This loss to Henderson would mark Miller’s third loss in his professional career, his other two defeats coming from Frankie Edgar (in his pre-UFC days) and Gray Maynard. It was later revealed that Miller was very sick during the fight, so we must question how well Miller would have done if he was healthy for that match with Henderson.

Jim Miller started  his 2012 off on the right note as he survived Melvin Guillard’s initial attack and then took the fight to the ground (after an ill-fated flying knee from Guillard). After only two minutes, Miller got the rear naked choke and tapped Melvin Guillard in the headliner to the first ever UFC on FX card.

After losing two fights at welterweight (a controversial loss to Dong-Hyun Kim and a decisive one sided loss to Rory MacDonald), Nate Diaz dropped back down to his natural 155 lbs weight class. Diaz had a lot of history already at lightweight, he was one a five fight win streak at one point over Manny Gamburyan, Junior Assuncao, Alvin Robinson, Kurt Pellegrino, and Josh Neer. He was then outwrestled by Guida in a close split decision loss and Joe Stevenson via unanimous decision. He beat Melvin Guillard next when Guillard practically put himself in Diaz’s guillotine choke (a fight that Guillard was winning) and then Diaz had another close disputed loss, this time to Gray Maynard in January 2010.

He jumped back at lightweight in late 2011 and destroyed Takanori Gomi at UFC 135. Picked him apart with his boxing and then totally dominated him on the ground, he tapped him out via armbar in the first round. He would then break FightMetric records as he utterly destroyed Donald Cerrone via Diaz-style for 15 minutes on December 30, 2011 at UFC 141. Nate landed a total 238 significant strikes on Cerrone, a record that shattered the previous record – Nick Diaz landing 178 significant strikes on BJ Penn. At the time, Cerrone was on a hot streak and was favored in that fight, so Diaz gained so much momentum from that one sided beatdown on the Cowboy.

Lots of different ways to look at this fight. One thing that doesn’t get mentioned is that Nate Diaz has pretty good judo-style takedowns (trips and throws) that he works in from close range, but I don’t think that will work against Jim Miller. I feel Miller will have the advantage when it comes to the wrestling and takedown department. Diaz has a five-inch reach advantage and is a several inches taller than Miller. Diaz has the better striking, throws in combinations and is relentless. However, Miller does have an awful lot of power, more so than Diaz. But if Diaz could survive a knockdown from Guillard, I think he can survive one from Miller. Also, while Miller got his BJJ black belt in 2010 and Diaz just barely got his last month, a Cesar Gracie BJJ black belt is a much bigger deal. I favor Diaz when it comes to submission grappling but I don’t see either guy getting a significant advantage there in this fight. I imagine this will be a five round battle, probably very close and I see Diaz taking it via decision at the very end.


The current lightweight landscape:

  • Former WEC champion Anthony Pettis recently had surgery but when he comes back, he’ll probably face a top ten guy in a title eliminator bout. Since his loss to Guida, he bounced back with wins against Jeremy Stephens in Houston and Joe Lauzon in Japan. Hopefully he’ll come back soon so he could get one more win in 2012.
  • Donald Cerrone was on the greatest streak of his career, six wins inside Zuffa owned promotions, before Nate Diaz beat him badly. Like Jim Miller and Anthony Pettis, a few wins should put him back in title contention. Cerrone was originally scheduled to fight the Thugjitsu master Yves Edwards, but he got injured. A better match arose from that, Cerrone will now fight Jeremy Stephens on May 15th to try to get another win inside the UFC.
  • Mark Bocek will probably never fight for the UFC crown, but he’s the perfect guy to have fighters defeat en route to earning title contention. Recently he defeated John Alessio and Nik Lentz, he has only lost to Edgar, Danzig, Jim Miller (a fight that I and a lot of people thought Bocek won), and Henderson. He’s an excellent grappler, his destruction of Hazelett a few years ago was a thing of beauty. So while he won’t get a title shot, I would love to see him fight guys that are close to title shots.
  • Gilbert Melendez is set to defend his Strikeforce title against Josh Thomson on May 19th, a fight that he should win. Whenever UFC decides to, Melendez can be brought in for an instant title shot against whoever the UFC lightweight champion is. He’s a top five lightweight that’s earned the right to fight for the title with wins over Aoki, Kawajiri, Masvidal, Thomson, Guida and Ishida. I am so curious to see how Melendez would fare against fighters like Pettis, Cerrone, Maynard, Edgar and Henderson.
  • Evan Dunham was on a two fight win streak (over Bailey and Lentz) when he was scheduled to face Edson Barboza on May 26th. Whoever won this fight would have probably put themselves much closer to title contention. Unfortunately, Dunham was injured so Barboza is going to fight and probably crush Jamie Varner on that date. When he beats Varner, he will become 5-0 in the UFC and he should hopefully face someone like his originally scheduled opponent.
  • After two losses at welterweight, Jacob Volkmann dropped down to lightweight and has been on a five fight win streak that includes victories over Ronys Torres, Paul Kelly, then MFC Champion Antonio McKee, Danny Castillo, and Efrain Escudero. He’ll now face undefeated submission master Paul Sass (12-0) on May 26th. Jacob Volkmann has defeated better fighters in his career but Sass poses a stylistic threat. Volkmann is an exceptional wrestler and submission grappler, loves to work from the front headlock position. He could be a future top ten fighter, but Sass could possibly submit him if Volkmann takes him down. Sass is brilliant at chaining together submissions, loves to triangle choke people and will also throw up heel hooks. Great fight, and whoever wins will be a step closer to fighting higher ranked fighters.
  • On June 28th, former title contender Gray Maynard will fight Clay Guida. If Edgar regains his championship, I don’t see Maynard matching up with him again anymore. But if Henderson retains his title, then Maynard can start working towards another shot at the gold. Guida lost to Henderson back in November but it will be interesting to see how he looks against Maynard.
  • Gleison Tibau is one of those guys like Mark Boeck that will probably never fight for a title but he’ll be a tough guy that people need to beat in order to get into title contention. He will fight Khabib Nurmagomedov on July 7th at UFC 148. Khabib is remembered mostly for beating the “Prince of Persia” Kamal Shalorus badly at UFC on FX 1.
  • Melvin Guillard was so close to fighting for the title, all he had to do was beat Joe Lauzon at UFC 136. Less than one minute into the fight, Lauzon tapped out Guillard. Then in his next fight, he lost in 2:04 in the first round to Jim Miller, via the same rear naked choke submission. He is set to face Fabricio Camoes, who also has the submission skills to tap Guillard out. But Guillard should have the skills to fight his type of fight and knock Camoes out on July 7, 2012.
  • Eddie Alvarez has one more fight in his Bellator contract, if he decides to come to the UFC, he will be instantly matched up with top ten fighters. Alvarez knocked out Shinya Aoki in his latest fight, bouncing back from his loss to Michael Chandler in a fight of the year candidate for 2011.
  • On August 11th, former WEC champion Benson Henderson will defend his UFC lightweight crown in a rematch against Frankie Edgar. Whoever wins this fight could find themselves fighting the top fighters discussed in this article.

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