This Saturday night (April 26, 2014) Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweights Jim Miller and Yancy Medeiros will face off on the pay-per-view (PPV) main card of UFC 172, airing live at 10 p.m. EST from Baltimore Arena in Baltimore, Maryland.
No. 9-ranked Miller was most recently seen defeating Fabricio Camoes with a first round armbar at UFC 168. The gritty veteran was originally scheduled to face Bobby Green at UFC 172, but an injury forced the UFC to book Medeiros as a very late replacement.
Medeiros was already set to face the UFC-debuting Joe Ellenberger, but now he has a challenge of an entirely different kind.
With only one loss one his mixed martial arts (MMA) record, Medeiros is a quiet up-and-coming force in the stacked UFC lightweight division. He was last seen knocking out Yves Edwards back at UFC Fight Night 31: "Fight for Troops 3" in November 2013, a result that was later changed to a No Contest after Medeiros tested positive for marijuana.
The Hawaiian-born Medeiros has benefitted greatly from the tutelage of both Nick and Nate Diaz, a trend that should continue against Miller.
However, it's far from a guarantee of victory against one of the toughest fighters in the sport today. Let's take a look at the keys to victory for Miller vs. Medeiros:
Record: 23-4(1) overall, 12-3(1) UFC
Key Wins: Joe Lauzon (UFC 155), Melvin Guillard (UFC on FX 1), Duane Ludwig (UFC 108)
Key Losses: Nate Diaz (UFC on Fox 3), Benson Henderson (UFC on Versus 5), Gray Maynard (UFC 96)
Keys to Victory: Talented grappler Miller boasts 13 submission wins on his record, and he will be looking to add to that list in Baltimore. Medeiros is a knockout striker who has finished six of his nine total wins via strikes. While the iron-chinned Miller has never been knocked out, there's no reason to get into a slugfest.
Medeiros may train with Team Gracie's high-level Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belts, but he has to prove he can grapple with the UFC's elite before being considered a truly well rounded fighter. Miller obviously holds the big advantage in terms of experience, a dynamic that should come into play quite heavily at UFC 172.
"Frisson" has never fought on a UFC main card, but Miller already has three "Fight of the Night" and three "Submission of the Night" bonuses to his name.
That's a skewed match-up to be certain, so Miller undoubtedly has the deck stacked in his favor. After a relatively uneventful 2013, the stage is set for Miler to get back to his winning ways against a young and talented but unproven opponent.
Taking this fight to the ground and seeking a submission is the best way to accomplish that goal.
Record: 9-1(1) overall, 0-1(1) UFC
Key Wins: None
Key Losses: Rustam Khabilov (UFC 159)
Keys to Victory: Medeiros has his hands full heading into his fight against Miller, without a doubt the biggest of his MMA career. He has the opportunity to catch lightning in a bottle and instantly make a name for himself, but the odds won't be with him in Baltimore.
His striking is his greatest skillset, but Medeiros will be forced to adapt against Miller. Medeiros has largely ran through lower level competition with a string of knockouts; however it's going to be tough, if not borderline impossible, to put away Miller with a barrage of punches. He's been through countless wars in the Octagon, something that Medeiros cannot lay claim to.
If Medeiros plans on shocking the world, he has to keep this fight standing. Going to the ground with a high-level grappler like Miller won't promise to end well, especially on a grand stage like UFC 172.
Medeiros will be given credit for taking an ultra-tough fight on short notice, but if he wants to win, he'll need to pull off something truly special. Sprawling Miller's takedown attempts, winning scrambles, and finding subsequent openings to unleash some big punches will be Medeiros' best chance at victory.
It just isn't a very good one.
Bottom Line from Baltimore: The bottom line for this fight is that it kind of presents a mismatch, but anything can happen in the fight game.
Miller would have had a much closer bout with Bobby Green, but he's now in a sort of lose-lose proposition against Medeiros. A win will most likely be chalked up to the expected outcome, but a loss would be absolutely devastating to Miller's plight at 155 pounds.
He simply has to win to keep his momentum rolling.
Medeiros, on the other hand, has to win to prove he belongs in UFC. After an injury loss in his debut and a drug test failure following his only promotional win, Medeiros hasn't exactly gotten off to a good start in UFC. There's no doubt he's a talented and game competitor; at some point, he's going to have to deliver on all that promise.
Beating Miller would definitely right all the wrongs of his rocky first year in UFC, but it's not a likely outcome. Medeiros has to show up calm, focused, and ready to impose his will under the bright lights of Baltimore Arena.
If he can do that, the 26-year-old may be headed for a stint as a legitimate UFC contender.
After several years as just that, you can bet Miller is far from willing to relinquish that status to an upstart like "Frisson," so expect the hard-charging Miller to put forth one of his classic performances.
Jim Miller is looking to build a win streak against late replacement Yancy Medeiros. Will he teach the youngster a lesson in Baltimore, or will Medeiros somehow prove he's been fighting far below his talent level?