Newly crowned Light Heavyweight Champion Jon “Bones” Jones is most likely the talk of the majority of fans. Urijah Faber’s victory that earned him a title shot and rematch against current Bantamweight Champ, Dominick Cruz, is definitely on the top of that list. Also, diehard and casual fans alike are probably all mourning the exit of Mirko Cro Cop from the UFC.
However, a story equally as big, which probably doesn’t get half the coverage or respect it warrants, is that of Lightweight standout Jim Miller.
On the night of Saturday March 19th at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, Jersey’s own Jim Miller recorded his seventh straight victory in quite dominating fashion. Faced up against 7-0-2 WEC transfer Kamal Shalorus, Miller showed off his always improving skill set with superior kickboxing and impressive grappling.
Shalorus, a highly decorated wrestler and a heavy-handed striker, was never able to get into a groove and looked stiff and awkward against the confident Sparta/Whippany N.J. local. The Iranian Lightweight was never comfortable enough on the feet to even attempt a takedown, came up inches short and got picked apart striking and never seriously threatened the fan favorite, Miller, in anyway.
Jim took a good portion of round No. 1, feeling out Shalorus in the striking game, and caught him with a handful of good shots. Round No. 2 mostly consisted of Miller shooting for a single leg take down, immediately getting his opponents back, and controlling him there for the remainder of the round. In round No. 3, Miller found his distance and rocked Shalorus with a counter uppercut, knocked him down with a knee to the head, and quickly rained down a barrage of fists to finish off the UFC newcomer.
This dominating performance put on by Miller was his seventh victory in a row, more than half of which he didn’t allow to go to the judges’ score cards, and improved his record in the UFC to 9-1 and 20-2 overall.
One now wonders what lies ahead for the young and very successful AMA product. In a division rich with some of the most talented fighters in the world, Miller has shown to be head and shoulders above most.
How far away is he from a title shot? One fight? Possibly his next fight? And who would he have to face next to further prove himself? A number of names come to mind, but most of which already have a scheduled fight. Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard (Miller's only two career loss's) square off for the title in May. Clay Guida and the last reigning WEC Lightweight champion Anthony “Showtime” Pettis fight in June with Pettis getting a shot at the victor of Edgar vs. Maynard if he is able to win.
Other top contenders such as George Sotiropoulos, Melvin Guillard and Dennis Siver all recently booked fights.
After the UFC 128 Q&A and weigh-ins on Friday, March 18th at The Prudential Center, I was lucky enough to run into Jim and his brother Dan and talk to them for a little while. I proposed an idea to Jim for his upcoming fights: Beat Kamal Shalorus, and if Ben Henderson defeats Mark Bocek at UFC 129 in April, Miller and Henderson should faceoff for No. 1 contender status. Jim’s response; however, was surprising:
“Ha, yeah that’s not going to happen,” he said.
“Why not?” I inquired.
“I see Bocek subbing Henderson in the first,” Jim responded.
It’s very interesting to hear Miller say that of the former WEC Lightweight champion, considering just a couple months ago, Ben Henderson was highly regarded as one of the best lightweights in the world. Although Jim did fight Bocek a year ago and won a very closely contested decision over the Canadian. So, I guess he knows just how good Bocek is.
Henderson has fought some of the best in the world (Shane Roller, Jamie Varner and Donald Cerrone twice), and prevailed many more times than not. Miller has demolished everyone the UFC has thrown at him over the last two years (Mac Danzig, Steve Lopez, Duane Ludwig, the aforementioned Mark Bocek, Gleison Tibau, Charles Oliveira, and most recently Kamal Shalorus).
Both fighters have good standup, very good wrestling, and very good Jiu-Jitsu. All that being said, Jim Miller vs. Ben Henderson would make for a great fight. The timing would line up pretty well too with Miller just having fought on March 19th and Henderson’s next fight being only a little over a month away on April 30th.
Even though Jim told me himself that he doesn’t think that fight would happen, theoretically it’s still a possibility. Nonetheless, with the destruction of his last couple of opponents and with seven consecutive victories, Jim Miller has said several times himself that he wants, and many could argue that he definitely deserves, to face the highest competition. Whether it’s an immediate title shot, a fight with Ben Henderson, or any of the other top-tier fighters previously mentioned, there’s no question that Miller needs to face a huge step up in talent in his next fight.
UFC president Dana White, when interviewed by Ariel Helwani, was quoted as saying: “I love that kid man, he’s a pitbull….. 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.” He wouldn’t answer any questions directly about a possible title shot for Jim yet, but Dana’s statements suggest that he and the matchmaker, Joe Silva, are considering a big step up in competition for the 27-year-old New Jersey Native.
Whatever happens, and whatever the UFC decides is next for “Jersey Jim,” be sure to keep your eyes and ears open. A veteran at quite a young age, Jim Miller’s imminent horizon certainly seems to be as bright as ever.