Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight fan favorites Jim Miller and Joe Lauzon will go to war this Saturday (Aug. 27, 2016) at UFC on FOX 21 inside Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Colombia, Canada. There’s no doubt that times have been rough for Miller, who has lost four of his last six bouts. Regardless, Miller has still proven to be a consistently tough out for each of his foes, and that’s unlikely to change here. Lauzon has also been a bit inconsistent as of late, but he’s shown some improvements as well. His last three victories each came via some form of knockout, which is nearly half of his career total.
Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for both athletes:
Record: 26-8 (1)
Key Wins: Joe Lauzon (UFC 155), Danny Castillo (UFC Fight Night 45), Yancy Medeiros (UFC 172)
Key Losses: Diego Sanchez (UFC 196), Beneil Dariush (UFC on FOX 15), Donald Cerrone (UFC Fight Night 45)
Keys to Victory: Miller has long been a well-rounded fighter, attacking with some nice Southpaw kickboxing and very dangerous Brazilian jiu-jitsu. However, his biggest issue recently has been getting muscled around on the mat despite his wrestling background.
To be honest, most of Miller's recent losses are understandable. Chiesa, Dariush, and Cerrone are all top 15 fighters. However, his defeat to Sanchez was pretty shocking — Sanchez's first legitimate victory since 2010 — and it raised serious questions of whether or not Miller still has it.
Dusting off Takenori Gomi doesn't really help his case much.
Luckily, Lauzon does not really have a history of manhandling opponents with wrestling. He's a jiu-jitsu specialist like Miller; not a physical monster who throws his foes around. With that in mind, Miller should look to replicate his success from the first bout. Last time around, Miller was the more explosive and damaging striker, smashing Lauzon with punches before closing the distance and battering him in the clinch.
Key Wins: Diego Sanchez (UFC 200), Michael Chiesa (UFC Fight Night 50), Jamie Varner (UFC on FOX 4), Melvin Guillard (UFC 136)
Key Losses: Jim Miller (UFC 155), Evan Dunham (The Ultimate Fighter 22 Finale), Al Iaquinta (UFC 183)
Keys to Victory: One of the UFC's most exciting fighters, Lauzon is a dynamic submission ace with some sneaky power behind his punches. He's been in the UFC for quite some time now, and on the whole, he's been pretty consistent about hanging just outside the Top 15.
If Miller's recent problems have been opposite dominant top control fighters, Lauzon has perhaps the opposite issue. Due to his stationary method of defense, Lauzon has gotten more and more hittable in recent years, which has caused him to eat quite a few shots.
Luckily, Miller is not a knockout artist and Lauzon's offensive punches have improved.
This is an interesting match up, as neither man seems exactly primed to exploit the other's recent weakness. With that in mind, we're likely in for another three-round war.
For Lauzon, he needs to do a couple things differently to end up on the winning side of the decision. First and foremost, he needs to initiate scrambles or takedowns to land on top and control Miller. Besides that, Lauzon should look to keep a high pace and attack his foe's mid-section. Miller slows down more than ever in fights nowadays, whereas Lauzon's conditioning is pretty consistent at this point in his career.
Bottom Line: It’s a fun scrap between Lightweight veterans.
In 2016, it’s rather clear that neither man is likely to make any sort of title run. Instead, both fighters have somewhat secured a position as a gatekeeper to the top half of the division. Both athletes put on exciting fights, and Lightweight always has fighters on the rise, meaning Miller and Lauzon have a purpose in their division.
A win doesn’t change that purpose for either man.
While both men are slowing down, neither are at risk of being cut just yet. Both are coming off strong first round finishes, but another victory would help prove that there’s plenty left in the tank. Avoiding a loss is especially important for Miller, as he appears to be sliding a bit faster than his opponent and needs to dig his heels in now.
At UFC on FOX 21, Jim Miller and Joe Lauzon will open the main card, likely in exciting fashion. Which man will have his hand raised?