Next Wednesday (Jan. 15, 2014) Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) featherweights Cole Miller and Sam Sicilia will square off in the opening main card bout of UFC Fight Night 35 from The Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Georgia.
Miller most recently beat fellow The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) participant Andy Ogle at UFC Fight Night 30 in October, while Sicilia erased a two-fight skid by defeating Godofredo Castro at UFC Fight Night 32 in November.
This bout is going to be crucial for the mixed martial arts (MMA) careers of both fighters. Let's look a look at the key details for Miller and Sicilia:
Record: 20-8 overall, 9-6 UFC
Key Wins: Andy Ogle (UFC Fight Night 30), Ross Pearson (UFC Fight Night 22)
Key Losses: Manvel Gamburyan (UFC Fight Night 26), Jeremy Stephens (UFC Fight Night 12)
Record: 12-3 overall, 2-2 UFC
Key Wins: Godofredo Castro (UFC Fight Night 32)
Key Losses: Maximo Blanco (TUF 17 Finale), Rony Jason (UFC 153)
The 6'1" Miller was once on a roll in UFC, earning three "Submission of the Night" bonuses in five fights at one point. However, "Magrinho" soon settled back to earth and has dropped four of his past seven Octagon bouts. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt will be looking to get Sicilia to the ground in Georgia. He has 14 submission wins and shouldn't mess around with Sicilia's knockout power.
Talented boxer Sicilia has had mixed results since his move down to featherweight, losing his first two bouts but defeating Castro. This bout will be a proving ground for him to make a case that he truly belongs in the tough UFC 145-pound division. Look for him to unleash a high volume of strikes at Miller, who has never tapped out in his entire career. The experienced Miller represents Sicilia's toughest test in the Octagon -- he's going to need to bring his best game to pass it.
Sicilia could be fighting for his job in Georgia. If he loses, it will mark three losses in four bouts. Miller hasn't exactly been stellar recently but his propensity for excitement and UFC track record will most likely keep him employed even if he loses.
Despite Sicilia having some solid submissions to his name, his power slugging should create an interesting contrast of striker vs. grappler here. If the fight goes to the ground, expect Miller to win handily. A kickboxing match will play directly into Sicilia's hands. With high stakes on the line, expect a war at UFC Fight Night 35.