This Saturday night, at UFC On Fox 3, marks another chapter in the race for title contention in the lightweight division. I have to tip my hat in the direction of Joe Silva for his stellar work in putting together two great fighters in the main event. Jim Miller vs. Nate Diaz has been a bout that I've been looking forward to for more months than the match has actually been made, and I have little to no doubt that it's going to be a barn burner. I recently caught up with Miller for TapouT Radio to get some final thoughts leading into Saturday's event.
Stephie Daniels: With this fight being in New Jersey, which is basically your back yard, do you feel more pressure to put on a great performance for your hometown fans, or does that not really factor in to your mindset?
Jim Miller: For me, personally, it doesn't matter where I'm fighting. I haven't felt more pressure leading up to this one. There has been more media, obviously, being a Fox card and a main event, but I'm just excited to fight on a big card as the main event. This is what I wanted when I started fighting, to be one of the headlining guys.
Stephie Daniels: Legalizing MMA in New York is such a pressing issue right now. How important is it to you to actually be able to fight there at some point?
Jim Miller: That would be really cool. I think it would be huge for the sport, and the city. Just imagine the events that could go on if you have a Madison Square Garden card with a full UFC expo to go along with it. It would absolutely be huge, and it would just be another push in the right direction for the sport, and we need that to legitimize it in the mainstream.
Stephie Daniels: If and when it does become legal there, how much would it mean to you to be on that first MSG card?
Jim Miller: That's an opportunity I would not want to miss. I've been lucky to be part of some really big cards, and that would be another that I'd want to be involved with.
Stephie Daniels: Several fighters, like Jon Jones and Ronda Rousey, have been actively campaigning for NY legalization of the sport. Is that a cause that you might consider taking to task also, maybe after this fight?
Jim Miller: I haven't had the opportunity yet, but it would definitely be something that I'd be willing to do to help out and try to push this sport forward.
Stephie Daniels: Have you changed up your training camp at all for this fight, or are you just keeping it business as usual?
Jim Miller: I trained a little bit differently for this fight than I have in the past. Partly because of the five round aspect, and because I'm fighting a guy that pushes a good pace. I've focused a little more on cardio, but in a smart way. I'm not just coming in to the gym every day and killing myself for five rounds, like I used to do in the past, and a lot of other guys still do.
I did a lot of technique, working my striking four days a week with Nick Avalos, my muay thai instructor, working on my wrestling, and I've had three guys helping me on my ground game for this fight. Jamie Cruz, as always, and then I started working with Brian McLaughlin and Gianni Grippo, who are two phenomenal technicians. I've learned so much in this camp, and I'm just excited to use these new tools that I have.
Stephie Daniels: Do you feel that the biggest threat Nate poses to you is on the feet or on the ground?
Jim Miller: If you're talking about finishing the fight, it's definitely his jiu jitsu. He's got a slick guillotine and a really nice triangle. My biggest concern with the fight, is not being able to get past his hands, and taking that volume of punches, like he did to Cerrone. That's a tough thing to deal with.
We worked a lot on movement, and not just sitting in his range. He's definitely a tough nut to crack. It would be foolish to try to sit in the distance of his jab, and try to punch him as well.
When I first heard about the fight, I was really excited to step in against a guy as talented as Nate. Neither of us back down, and neither of us take a round off, or even a minute off. It's going to be a high paced fight, whether it ends early or if it goes 25 minutes.
Stephie Daniels: Nate is an experienced triathlete, and has a seemingly endless gas tank. Have you incorporated any endurance training like cycling, swimming or running to your camp?
Jim Miller: No, I have not. I do some sprints a couple days a week, and that's really it. I do lift weights, but everything else is fight specific. We're not flipping tires and swinging sledge hammers. That's something you do just to stay busy.
Any punch I throw, as long as I'm throwing it right, and with proper technique, is going to develop it, and make my strikes better, so why not try to use those cardio rounds to also work on my striking and grappling.
Stephie Daniels: You mentioned the aspects of Nate's game that might give you some trouble. Where do you think he's going to find the most trouble with you?
Jim Miller: I think he's got to keep me away. I'm pretty confident that when I get hold of him, I'm going to be the stronger guy. It's going to be a tough fight when we hit the mat. Neither one of us is going to have a clear advantage and I'm expecting it to be a battle.
Stephie Daniels: With this fight not being held someplace abroad or in an exotic location, do you have a little R&R vacation planned, or will you just kick back at home?
Jim Miller: I don't know yet. I've got to talk to the boss [laughs]. I know my wife would definitely love to go somewhere. Me, personally, I don't really like going that far away. I like going places where I can drive. That way, I've got my truck and my stuff. I've got my tools and stuff like that. I don't like being away from my stuff. But yeah, maybe we'll head somewhere.
Stephie Daniels: Is this a thing about flying, not having access to your tools, or you just don't like to go too far from home?
Jim Miller: You know, I've had really good vacations, and then I've had some that were just awful. When you deal with those terrible ones, you're like, 'Why didn't I just drive the three hours to the Adirondacks and hang out there, instead of flying to Aruba and being sick and miserable for a week?'
Stephie Daniels: Did that really happen to you?
Jim Miller: Yeah, that was an experience. Last April, right after my fight with Kamal Shalorus, I went to Aruba with my wife and daughter, and my parents. The second day down there, I end up getting miserably sick. I had a fever and was trembling in 85-90 degree weather. It was terrible.
Stephie Daniels: What are your plans for the future? How long do you want to continue punching people in the face?
Jim Miller: For now, I want these big fights, and to fight these tough guys. I'd like the title opportunity as soon as possible, because I don't want to be one of those guys that fights until they're 40. You know, I want to be out at 34. I want to try to take that title and hold it until I decide that I'm done with the sport, and can walk away.
Stephie Daniels: After you walk away, do you have any other goals you'd want to achieve, maybe movies or owning your own gym?
Jim Miller: I haven't really decided yet. I haven't decided if I want a gym or not. At this point, I don't. I'm leaning toward getting away from it. I love the outdoors. I'd love to do something that involves being outside. We'll just have to wait and see.
Follow Jim via his Twitter, @JimMiller_155