As one half of one of the most successful sibling duos in MMA, Jim Miller has risen up the ranks of the lightweight division by letting his fighting do the talking for him.
On August 14 at UFC Versus 5, Miller has the opportunity to shoot himself all the way to the top of the ladder and become the number one contender to the UFC lightweight title. Standing in his way is one of the more dynamic fighters in the 155-pound division, Ben Henderson.
We caught up with Jim about a whole host of topics, including what he has to say about Melvin Guillard calling him out, if he expected Anthony Pettis to win, and why does he want to beat up Shinya Aoki?
Keep reading and find out......
Gerry Rodriguez: Before we discuss your upcoming fight, I'm interested in knowing how you were drawn into the sport before becoming a professional fighter?
Jim Miller: I was drawn to the sport because I was a fan. I saw my first UFC video in 1998 and always thought of wanting to do it and then later down in life I was able to work it. I took my first jiu-jitsu class and 6 months later had my first MMA fight. It was a pretty quick step up to the plate.
Gerry Rodriguez: You have a big fight coming up on Aug.14 vs Ben Henderson, is there something you see in his game, that your other opponents didn't have and are preparing for?
Jim Miller: Every fighter is different. He's a pretty well rounded guy and has a pretty unique style of fighting but when I'm preparing for a fight, I'm preparing myself. I'm not preparing for an individual opponent for multiple reasons. Opponents can change at a drop of a hat. I don't like the idea of preparing for an individuals specific weakness because they might have improved on it and be a completely different fighter by the time the fight comes.
Gerry Rodriguez: So you're saying you don't study your opponent? Is that why you've been so successful when taking fights on such short notice?
Jim Miller: Yeah, I pay attention when they fight and that's all I need. My trainers watch tape on them and give me little things here and there. I just focus on becoming a better fighter. I'd rather make headway on things I need to improve, than saying, "OK this guy like to press against the cage."
Gerry Rodriguez: Does a win over Henderson guarantee a title shot for you, especially now that Pettis lost?
Jim Miller: I don't know yet. Dana has said I'm next in line, but it depends on the way things go. A lack luster fight or if someone comes over from Strikeforce, who knows? I just have to focus on Ben and if I'm next in line, then it's fantastic.
Gerry Rodriguez: So your emotions didn't sway one way or another when you saw Pettis lose?
Jim Miller: It's what I expected. It was a great display of what MMA is, and what it started out as; exploiting weaknesses. Anthony just doesn't have the wrestling and grappling to deal with the guys atop this division. Frank (Edgar), Gray (Maynard), Clay (Guida), me and Melvin (Guillard), we're all great wrestlers.
Gerry Rodriguez: Speaking of Frank and Gray, how do you see their third fight coming up?
Jim Miller: I think its going to go much like, in my opinion, the last four rounds of the last fight, I think Frankie did enough and should have won those four rounds. I think Frank is going to be able to outwork him. I've trained with him and I know he's busting his ass. You can't count Gray out, but personally, I just think Frankie is going to outwork him.
Gerry Rodriguez: You mentioned Melvin Guillard- he recently called you out, ...You've got a 7 fight win streak and you guys haven't exactly fought the same level of competition, Should he even be in the title picture?
Jim Miller: He's a very dangerous fighter, he's a tough fighter for anyone but he does have weaknesses. He has beaten some good guys and should be considered up there. The whole thing with him calling me out, it must have been a slow day in the headlines. Someone asked him if he wanted to fight me and he should say yes. He's a tough fight for anybody.
Gerry Rodriguez: What happens if he wins his fight with Joe Lauzon and you beat Henderson? Would that be the next logical fight?
Jim Miller: I don't know, there's been such a log jam in the division. I don't even know when the next title fight will be after Frankie vs Maynard will be, so timing wise, maybe it will happen, who knows.
Gerry Rodriguez: Dream opponent, other than whoever has the title?
Jim Miller: In the division, in the UFC, there are quite a few guys I'd like to fight, including Clay and Melvin. I'd like the opportunity to fight the best and beat them. Outside the division, I'd love to fight Aoki. I have a level of respect for him because he's phenomenal on the ground but he's so disrespectful to other fighters, that I just want to beat him up. Overall, I'd really love to fight GSP, just to see how good he really his.
Gerry Rodriguez: Do you see yourself moving up a weight class later down the line?
Jim Miller: Possibly, I'm 27, just coming into my prime and if I'm putting on more weight and it becomes to much then I might move up.
Gerry Rodriguez: I've said it many times, I feel Japanese fighters are overrated, and there's a drop off when they fight outside of Japan, what are your thoughts on that?
Jim Miller: The sport has evolved since the Pride days. There are some very talent Japanese fighters out there and there were guys fighting over there that were animals...I think a lot of the Japanese fighters don't take the strength and condition aspect, as much importance. They always seem to be the less explosive fighters and its a detriment.
Gerry Rodriguez: Any thoughts on a solution to fixing the judging in MMA, everyone seems to have an opinion these days, what would you suggest?
Jim Miller: Take it out of their hands. What I really don't like about the situation is the fighters complaining about it. We're supposed to be fighters and we're supposed to be tough. At the end of the first round, I come back to my corner thinking, "OK, he survived the first five minutes, I have ten minutes to put him away", not, "did I win this round"? Basically, man up and stop complaining.
Gerry Rodriguez: Last question-You were at one time, probably the most underrated lightweight in mma, despite your impressive wins, what's it like to be so close to a title shot and finally getting the respect you deserve?
Jim Miller: The big thing for me is I've had the respect of my peers and they like the way I've done it. They are impressed by the string of wins I've put together and that's what really means something to me.
Jim would like to thank all of his training partners and trainers at AMA and his family for supporting him.