Jim Miller has a chance to make history at UFC 276 but don’t expect him to start touting records and crowing about numbers with a win over Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone on Saturday.
Currently tied with Cerrone and Andrei Arlovski for the most wins in UFC history with 23, Miller can separate himself from the pack with a victory but as much as he appreciates the accolades, the reputation he’s earned as a fighter who always stepped up whenever he was called upon matters more.
“In the words of [means more],” Miller, The Fighter vs. The Writer. “The numbers are cool. These numbers are nothing I can rely on. At this point, it’s basically all about attrition. Just hanging on. It is true that there are many wins and great performances. There are also a lot more opportunities to achieve those numbers.
“It’s not just about 40 UFC fights or 23 or 24 wins, this and that. Fighting is about the love of the sport, and the desire to win. It was that aspect of it which really intrigued me. Not Twitter. That’s not what got me into MMA. My goal is to emulate the man who inspired me to get into MMA .”
At 38, Miller has seen his fair share of ups and downs over the years including a crippling bout with Lyme disease that could have easily robbed him of his fighting career.
Even with that, Miller has stayed incredibly consistent with at least two fights per year dating all the way back to his debut in the UFC in 2008.
While he’s never claimed a title during his historic run through the UFC, Miller has outlasted every single champion who was holding a belt when he first appeared in the octagon. Miller was just four years old when he first fought in the UFC. The promotion didn’t have featherweight, bantamweight, or flyweight divisions, and women weren’t allowed to compete in the UFC until his fourth year anniversary.
” “There is definitely a lot luck involved.” Miller stated about Miller’s longevity. “I’ve probably been very close to some injuries that would have shortened my career but I’ve also tried to be smart about it and train hard but train intelligently.
“A lot of times, fighters we kind of fall victim to our own ego like it’s sparring day, I need to go hard. These guys need me to be a leader. I need to push because everybody else is doing it.”
According to Miller, opening his own gym in 2014 was probably the moment that likely saved his career because he was finally able to train the way he needed to continue fighting for years to come.
Rather than constantly beating up his body, the New Jersey native started to take days off when needed while also ratcheting down some of the intensity in the training sessions when he just wasn’t feeling up to it on a particular day.
“It made it that I wasn’t fighting that ego or those voices that were trying to help but physically I wasn’t capable of doing it that day,” Miller explained. “It is crazy to think about.
“Cause it’s not only the 40 fights. That’s 320 weeks (over six years) of fight camp basically. There’s a lot of time spent in actual fights inside the gym to get to those 40 fights. That’s a lot of risk involved. There are many potential injuries, but I have managed to make it through the whole thing .”
Miller will face Cerrone at UFC 276,, in an actual rematch eight years after their first meeting in 2014..
On this night Cerrone attacked Miller with a headkick that stopped the fight in round 2. It was in the middle a win streak that led eventually to the lightweight title shot.
Lately, Miller has been enjoying a career resurgence with back-to-back knockout wins while Cerrone has openly said he has only two fights left in his career as he looks to rebound following an 0-5 run with one no contest in his past six outings.
None of that matters much to Miller, who actually took this fight up a weight class on just over a week’s notice after his original opponent Bobby Green was forced off the card. Once again, Miller is just doing what he always does — stepping up when the UFC needs him, although revenge would taste pretty sweet to him in the rematch.
“The fight years ago is eight years ago now, I feel I could have won,” Miller said. “He got the better of me. Set me up good for that head kick but we were still both young, early 30s, in our primes and I feel I’ve been able to hold onto it a little bit better given my recent fights and given his.
“I’m eager to get in there and take over the land. When I do, I’m feeling confident that I’m going to put him away.”