UFC on Fox 2 featured No. 1 contender bouts at middleweight and light heavyweight, as well as a third affair featuring an up-and-coming prospect against a Top 10 staple at 185 pounds. To the displeasure of more than a few fans, all three fights went the distance. For UFC on Fox 3, the Las Vegas-based promotion attempts to appease the masses by offering an all-action main event on Saturday at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, N.J. While it is certainly possible the lightweight headliner between Jim Miller and Nate Diaz goes the distance, it is highly unlikely that anyone will be bored watching them do it.
If that was not enough, the main card also includes a welterweight showdown with serious pecking order implications, one of the sport’s most dangerous limb collectors and a potential heavyweight slugfest. In short, there is a little something for everyone. Here is a closer look at UFC on Fox 3 “Diaz vs. Miller,” with analysis and picks.
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Jim Miller (21-3, 10-2 UFC) vs. Nate Diaz (15-7, 10-5 UFC)
The Matchup: Miller and Diaz favor aggressive offensive attacks but implement them in different ways. Diaz likes to bait his opponents into trading on the feet, where he can score points in bunches with his high-volume boxing. A sturdy chin allows him to absorb the occasional strike in order to deal out combinations of his own, and his ground game is dangerous enough to discourage many frustrated foes from taking him down.
Miller’s standup is better than he gets credit for, but he uses it mainly to set up clinches and takedown attempts. There, the New Jersey native’s conditioning pays off, as he applies tremendous pressure while transitioning from one submission attempt to another. Miller is good at remaining composed in the face of adversity, as he demonstrated against Melvin Guillard in his most recent bout. Miller was floored early by a left hook from “The Young Assassin,” but he kept his cool and eventually recovered to earn a first-round submission victory.
It is likely the AMA Fight Club representative will take some shots against Diaz; the Stockton, Calif., native landed 238 significant strikes against Donald Cerrone at UFC 141, shattering the previous record of 178 held by his brother, Nick Diaz. Cerrone was seemingly mesmerized by Diaz’s striking, as he remained willing to trade with the Cesar Gracie pupil throughout the contest, despite losing nearly every exchange.
Miller will not play the same type of game, however. He has a solid one-two that he uses effectively, but a prolonged battle on the feet is something he cannot win. In the past, wrestlers with the type of top control capable of nullifying Diaz’s jiu-jitsu have experienced the most success against him. Miller has the type of skill set to make this game plan work: he is a jiu-jitsu black belt who is skilled at avoiding submission attempts while advancing his position from the top.
This fight figures to have a tremendous pace throughout, as both men are known for their deep gas tanks. Miller will pressure Diaz early and often, looking to close the distance. Much of the direction of this fight depends on Diaz’s takedown defense. In the past, opponents have had little trouble taking him to the mat, but he will regret it if he makes it too easy for Miller.
For Diaz to become a title contender at lightweight, this is the type of matchup he will have to prove he can win. While the Stockton, Calif., native works well off his back, Miller is not the type to fall into a triangle or guillotine choke due to careless aggression.
The durability of both fighters is not in question; in a combined 46 professional fights, Diaz has been finished once, while Miller has never been stopped. Neither man has experienced a fourth or fifth round, however, so that becomes the unknown variable. If Miller is drained from shooting for takedown after takedown during the first 15 minutes, Diaz could very well outpoint him and steal the final two frames. However, if Miller has been successful implementing top control in the early going, it might just be a case of rinse and repeat.
The Pick: Expect some serious action, especially early, as Miller attempts to close the distance and impose his will on Diaz. “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 5 winner will look good early, but Miller is tenacious and he will gradually sway the momentum in his favor. This fight could be decided by a takedown or two in the later rounds. Miller makes it happen and takes a razor-thin decision.
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