Jim Miller has attempted 27 career submissions, which ranks second in UFC history. | Photo: Sherdog.com
Joe Lauzon (22-7, 9-4 UFC) vs. Jim Miller (21-4, 10-3 UFC)
The Matchup: Rare is the occasion when a replacement opponent offers as much -- if not more -- intrigue than the original, but this pairing fits that description. Lauzon was originally scheduled to square off with fellow “Ultimate Fighter” Season alumnus Gray Maynard, but “The Bully” suffered a knee injury and was forced to withdraw. In his place steps Miller, whose aggressive style should blend nicely with Lauzon’s finish-at-all-costs approach.
Lauzon notched his 10th and 11th post-fight bonuses for his third-round submission victory over Jamie Varner at UFC on Fox 4. It was a wildly entertaining affair that captured Lauzon’s philosophy in a nutshell. The Bridgewater, Mass., native pushes extremely hard in the early moments of his fights, so hard that he sometimes runs out of gas down the stretch. He managed to outpace Varner in August, but few Lauzon bouts see a third frame; he went the distance in losing a decision to Sam Stout at UFC 108, but none of his other 29 professional fights have gone the distance.
Miller, meanwhile, saw a run at the lightweight title short-circuited by Nate Diaz at UFC on Fox 3 in May. The younger Diaz battered Miller with his trademark boxing before submitting him with a guillotine choke in the second round. It was the first time in 25 career bouts that the notoriously durable AMA Fight Club member had been finished.
Both men possess active submission games, but Lauzon is more prolific, averaging 4.17 attempts per 15 minutes to Miller’s 2.93. Lauzon is comfortable chaining together submission attempts from top position or from his back. Miller is similarly active, but he does most of his best work from above.
Miller is the superior wrestler, as he uses a solid one-two combination to set up clinches and takedowns, while Lauzon sets the table for his shots with accurate boxing. Both fighters prefer to move forward, so it will be interesting to see who can impose his will first. Miller is more durable and can probably win using a more grinding style than Lauzon, who will go for broke from the opening bell.
The Pick: It is hard to imagine Miller tapping in consecutive bouts. Look for him to wear down Lauzon, winning just enough of the scrambles and tie-ups to win via late submission or decision.
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