Dan Miller will make his return to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Octagon when he faces Daniel Sarafian at the upcoming UFC Fight Night 58 event on FOX Sports 1, which takes place at Jose Correa Arena in Barueri, Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Dec. 20, 2014 (details).
That's more than a year and a half since his last fight, a knockout loss to Jordan Mein back in 2012. It will also be 16 months since he went under the knife for spinal fusion surgery; a procedure that could have possibly ended his mixed martial arts (MMA) career at the age of 33.
Now, with a difficult surgery and over a year of rehab behind him, Miller looks to get back into the swing of things and return to the sport he loves.
Appearing on The MMA Hour, Miller talked about his time off, his surgery and how hard it was for him to corner his brother, Jim Miller, and not being able to compete himself.
His words (via MMA Fighting):
"Going into it (surgery), they said there is a chance (I could never fight again). They were saying that once opened me up, if they had to do two (fusions), my career would be done. Pretty much that was the first question I asked my wife when I saw her: ‘Did they do one or two?'"
"Of course there were a little bit (of nerves), a little bit, but it's the same thing as anything else, I got over it real quick. I feel great. I train now and I feel really good. ... I miss [fighting] so much. I want to get in there so bad, especially watching Jim and being in the corner with him, man, because it was always like he would fight, I would fight, he would fight, I would fight -- so going to his fights and experiencing them always made me want to do it more, but I was able to. Now it's like, it's just been burning, man. I want to get back in there."
Thankfully, the surgery went well and Miller was given the green light to return to fighting.
After making the hard drop down to welterweight, Dan will jump back up to middleweight for his comeback fight after realizing that, aside from avoiding a grueling weight cut, 185 pounds is the best division for him to compete at.
"I tried welterweight just to see if I could do it, if it was something that would just better my career. But I did it twice, I had kind of a rough time making the weight, and I just felt like I could fight a lot better at middleweight, that I could perform way better. I decided that I'm not the biggest and strongest middleweight, but at least when I walk into the ring, I can feel 100 percent."
His return to the Octagon won't be an easy one, as he will face a dangerous, heavy-hitting opponent in Sarafian, who needs a win in the biggest way after dropping two straight.
But after overcoming his latest trials and tribulations, I'm sure getting the chance to step back into the Octagon once again is what Miller is most grateful for, regardless of who's standing across the cage from him.