Cole Miller isn’t impressed by grappling skill of many of his UFC brethren. | Keith Mills/Sherdog.com
Cole Miller may have mixed feelings on whether CM Punk deserves to punch the clock in the world’s premiere mixed martial arts organization, but he has no doubts about the former WWE star’s ability to beat some of the 185-pound talent currently on the UFC roster.
“With CM Punk, I fully advocate him being in the UFC and I do shut down all the haters because he will beat some guys in the UFC,” Miller said during a recent appearance on the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show. “Should he be in the UFC? Well, if you want to call this a sport, there needs to be some guidelines and some criteria in which someone should be able to make it into the UFC and make that an elite level sport. I guess that’s up for debate.”
A 29-fight veteran, Miller took to Twitter shortly after Punk’s signing was announced during UFC 181. When pressed to give some examples of opponents the new Roufusport member might beat, Miller hasd a couple ideas in mind, including Irish middleweight Cathal Pendred, who recently earned a controversial decision triumph over Sean Spencer at UFC Fight Night in Boston.
“I would put him against that Irish guy that got beat up by Sean Spencer. I’d put [Punk] against him,” said Miller, who faces Max Holloway at UFC Fight Night "Thompson vs. Thatch" in Colorado on Feb. 14. “I feel like there was an ‘Ultimate Fighter’ season not so long ago [‘TUF 19’] that was a bunch of 185-ers, which is a great platform for making it into the UFC also. But a lot of those guys are 3-0, which is all you have to be.”
Miller is a believer in Punk’s abilities, but in his mind the fact that the ex-pro wrestler is able to compete in the Las Vegas-based promotion without any previous experience is a serious indictment of MMA as a so-called “sport.” And that goes for far more than just Punk, as many fighters enter the Octagon these days with limited resumes.
“If this was a real sport these guys that are...you can’t have five fights period. You would not fight in the UFC,” he said. “It didn’t matter who you fought. It didn’t matter what your credentials were. I can’t go to boxing and fight five times and fight for any kind of title if I was 5-0. That’s a sport.
“Being able to beat guys and perform doesn’t mean you should be there,” Miller continued. “You need to go out there and fight. There needs to be some sort of bar or minimum. People talked about what a joke it was that Michael Jordan went and played minor league baseball. He wasn’t able to just go and play for the White Sox. Because that’s a sport.”
With that said, Miller believes that Punk’s lmited grappling credentials -- he has trained under Rener Gracie but remains a white belt -- are more than adequate in today’s UFC landscape.
“He’s good. Just in general, UFC fighters are not good on the ground. They’re, on average -- I’m not talking about guys in the top 10 -- blue belts, technically. They might be incredible athletes and their technical ability will be outshined by their athletic ability, but you’re talking about some low-level grappling,” Miller said. “You might see a guy that’s not ranked tap out a black belt in jiu-jitsu. But that doesn’t mean that he has good jiu-jitsu. That might mean that black belt didn’t do their road work in their training and showed up out of shape.
“The level of grappling is low in the UFC compared to people that only do jiu-jitsu.”