Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight veterans Jim Miller and Francisco Trinaldo faced off last night (Oct. 28, 2017) at UFC Fight Night 119 inside Ibirapuera Gymnasium in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Miller has been in the UFC for the better part of a decade and has certainly seen his share of ups-and-downs. He’s no longer a top contender — which tends to equate to more frequent losses since he still fights tough opponents — but Miller remains a game scrapper with tricks up his sleeve.
In fairness, that description could be applied to Trinaldo as well. His combination of physical kickboxing and improved conditioning saw him score seven straight wins, but a setback saw him come into this fight looking to start a new streak.
Trinaldo immediately began the fight with hard pressure, showing little respect for Miller’s offense and eating some shots. Miller then caught a kick and converted to a takedown, but a kneebar attempt from Trinaldo immediately allowed the Brazilian to reverse into his foe’s guard.
Miller stood up not long after before scoring a well-timed double. From his back, Trinaldo focused almost entirely on holding onto his opponent, which prevented Miller from doing much damage but also kept Trinaldo on his back for about two minutes.
It likely cost him the round.
Trinaldo tightened up his punches a bit and landed well to start the second round as a result. The left hand began to land with increased frequency, and the fact that Trinaldo wasn’t simply winging overhands made it far more difficult for Miller to duck under and score with a double-leg.
By about the halfway point in the round, Trinaldo’s edge in physicality was beginning to affect Miller. The landed punches and kicks were causing Miller to fade, but Miller hung tough and timed a takedown once more. It wasn’t clean, however, and an attempted guillotine from Miller allowed Trinaldo to take top position.
He finished the round from there, dropping heavy shots on the jiu-jitsu black belt.
The exchanges were relatively even until Miller took a bad shot and found himself force to work out of a front head lock. That exchange slowed Miller, and Trinaldo built upon that with a few heavy body shots and extended clinch work.
Once Trinaldo gained that advantage, he never released it. The 39 year old Brazilian was definitely tired — both men were feeling the previous hard 10 minutes of combat — but he kept attacking with heavy elbows. When Miller threw a slow low kick that saw him taken down with a minute remaining, his chances at taking home the decision vanished.
Trinaldo’s hand was raised minutes later.
This was a strong, workman-like performance from Trinaldo. He came out too aggressive, and Miller was able to capitalize with counter punches and takedowns. Once Trinaldo settled down, he found his range quickly, began to land, and Miller’s ability to perform suffered as a result.
From the second round forward, Trinaldo’s striking was sharp. His timing on the counter left hand improved when he stopped looking for the knockout, and that opened up his combinations. In particular, his elbow strikes in the clinch were great and show that the older fighter is still developing tools.
This win reasserts Trinaldo’s current position. He’s not a top contender, but he’s in the top 15 or at least close to it. That’s a hell of an accomplishment at any age, and Trinaldo has carved out a great position for himself fighting in front of the Brazilian crowd frequently, a crowd who loves him dearly.
Put him with any up-and-comer or fellow veteran next, and it will be a solid scrap.
From the other side, it was also a pretty standard post-2014 Jim Miller performance. Miller had his moments and showed some tricky strikes with great timing, but he simply couldn’t keep up with his opponent for all three rounds. That’s a tough issue considering the average pace of UFC Lightweights, and it’s made more difficult by the fact that Miller isn’t an amazing finisher.
This is three fights in the hole for Miller. Admittedly, a pair of those losses came to top 10 fighters, and Trinaldo isn’t far off from that caliber of athlete. Miller shouldn’t be released, but he does need a step back in competition.
Last night, Francisco Trinaldo returned to the win column. Who should the Brazilian veteran face next?
For complete UFC Fight Night 119 “Miller vs. Trinaldo” results and play-by-play, click HERE!