Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight veterans Anthony Pettis and Jim Miller threw down last night (July 8, 2017) at UFC 213 inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Although the event labelled “Redemption” took place two nights ago, Pettis hoped to make a return of his own. Back at the weight class in which he once held the belt, “Showtime” had a chance to return to the win column and try to make another run. Across his decade inside the Octagon, Miller has put together great win streaks and some ugly losses. Unbothered either way, Miller remained consistent and kept moving forward. Opposite a former champion, Miller could begin making an argument for his own return to the Top 15.
Miller’s strategy came in this one came as a bit of a surprise, as he allowed Pettis to take the center of the cage. Rather than pressure the kickboxer, Miller went to work with his inside low kick, whacking his opponent’s leg far out of stance.
Miller found a lot of success with that kick and some punches, but Pettis turned it on at about the midway point in the round. He stunned Miller with a cross, which put the New Jersey-native on the defensive. From that point on, Pettis controlled his foe along the fence and landed some really significant shots.
It was a fun round, but Pettis left with momentum on his side.
Needing to change things up, Miller went after Pettis to start the round, landing well with his left hand and left kick. Pettis responded with a high kick that cut Miller, but Miller was able to catch a low kick and respond with his first takedown. After landing some good ground strikes, Miller briefly transitioned into back mount, but his blood helped Pettis slip away and take top position.
From top position, Pettis was able to land some good elbows and was able to pass into side control. Pettis stayed active from there as well, maintaining top position until the end of the round.
Miller needed a finish heading into the final five minutes.
Miller returned to his low kick fwith some success in the third, but Pettis’ boxing was too sharp. As Miller advanced, he was stabbed with jabs and the creative kick. Pettis also made good use of angles, staying outside of Miller’s lead leg and limiting his offense.
Miller shot in for a takedown and timed it well, but Pettis was able to defend and reverse Miller into the fence. He controlled his opponent well for a decent amount of time, and he returned to picking Miller apart while Miller attempted to pull a rabbit out of his hat with rolling leg lock attempts and jumping kicks.
It wasn’t meant to be.
Pettis was awarded the unanimous decision victory, and it’s one of his better performances in recent years, admittedly against a slight step back in competition. He adapted to Miller’s kickboxing approach well, finding his range and mixing up his combinations and kicks.
It was pretty on a technical level and on the “Showtime” scale, as he mixed smart striking with dangerous flashy techniques.
Additionally, some of the historic flaws of Pettis’ game appeared improved. He was a little too willing to fight from his back, but on the whole his takedown defense and response to pressure looked better than ever.
I’m not ready to call him a title contender again just yet — especially not considering how nasty Lightweight’s top five is — but it was a nice start.
As for Miller, he has nothing to be ashamed of. He fought a smart fight, even if it wasn’t the one we expected. He was having more success on the feet than most expected, but he just couldn’t match up to Pettis’ explosiveness. When Pettis landed cleanly, Miller felt it and was forced to be a bit more defensive to avoid getting badly hurt.
Other than that, Miller kickboxed technically and landed some solid shots. He also was able to find a takedown and control Pettis for a bit, which is a difficult task. In short, Miller proved he still has plenty left in the tank even in a loss.
Last night, Anthony Pettis returned to the win column with a clear-cut victory. What’s next for "Showtime?"
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For complete UFC 213: “Romero vs Whittaker” results and play-by-play, click HERE!