Charles Oliveira (L) gets his leg caught in a kneebar submission by Jim MIller (R) -- Photo by Esther Lin for SBNation
Having fought inside the Octagon since late 2008, the New Jersey native has seen victory 10 times and defeat only twice. The two men who were able to beat Miller were former number one contender Gray Maynard and current lightweight champion Ben Henderson.
Not exactly a couple of guys who anyone would consider bums.
Conversely, his victories include wins over Mac Danzig, Duane Ludwig and Melvin Guillard. Again, not a list of lightweights to be taken lightly. The latter two, in fact, were stopped by Miller before the midway point of the opening round.
For the second time, Miller finds himself fighting for a title shot when he takes on Nate Diaz in the main event of this Saturday's (May 5, 2012) UFC on Fox 3: "Diaz vs. Miller" card. He was promised a crack at the belt had he defeated "Smooth," but the former World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) champion came out on top and got the chance to tangle with Frankie Edgar in Japan.
Miller's opponent this weekend is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under Cesar Gracie, but then again, the AMA Fight Club product is no slouch on the ground, either. And he proved his advancement wasn't a mere trophy belt when he met Charles Oliveira at UFC 124 in Montreal.
Let's take a look at how that fight played out:
They touch gloves in the center of the Octagon and Miller pops off two quick jabs. His Brazilian opponent answers with a head kick Miller is able to block. The American pressures "Do Bronx" against the cage but Oliveira drops levels and snags onto one of his opponent's legs.
While it would seem Miller is confident enough in his submission defense, willingly engaging someone with the skill set of Oliveira is playing with fire and the American isn't looking to get burned. He spins out, freeing his leg and the two reset.
Another head kick from Oliveira nearly hits its mark but again is blocked. The Brazilian goes low the next time around and smacks his shin against Miller's inside thigh. Miller responds with a straight but "Do Bronx" covers up instantly and avoids damage. For an esteemed grappler, Oliveira's striking looks crisp in the opening moments of the bout.
A third head kick seems to wobble the New Jersey native momentarily but he pushes through and grabs onto his opponent's legs. He grinds Oliveira against the cage and shifts all of his focus onto a single leg in hopes of taking the fight to the mat. Miller is able to but the Brazilian grabs a hold of his neck in hopes of securing a guillotine choke.
The American begins to shifts to sidemount to avoid the submission but his opponent wisely hustles to keep him in either half-guard or guard where the choke has a greater likelihood of taking hold. As Miller works towards a more advantageous position, "Do Bronx" releases the choke and tries to apply a kimura but the American is able to avoid this submission as well.
Now in Oliveira's full guard, Miller begins to land small punches to the head and body as his opponent starts to shift around on the mat, looking for a possible triangle choke. Oliveira nearly lands it but Miller is able to avoid getting wrapped up. As they jockey for position on the mat, Miller takes a vertical base and "Do Bronx" gets to work on the American's leg.
As Oliveira's attention is focused on the lower limb of his opponent, he fails to realize his own leg is sticking right in front of Miller's face. The America grabs hold of the ankle, spins around and falls to the Octagon floor with a thud. He begins to crank Oliveira's leg back, putting extreme pressure on the knee which "Do Bronx" responds to by landing a few hard punches to Miller's ribs.
One more slight crank, though, is all Miller needs to elicit a tap out from the grappling standout.
Can the New Jersey native pull off an equally unlikely submission this Saturday?