Nate Diaz and Jim Miller face off during the UFC on FOX 3 weigh-ins at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, N.J. on May 4, 2012. Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
In the main event of this weekend's UFC on Fox 3 show, Jim Miller (21-3; 10-2 UFC) faces Nate Diaz (15-7; 10-5 UFC) in a pivotal Lightweight match-up. The USA TODAY / MMA Nation Consensus MMA Rankings currently have Miller ranked at #5 in the Lightweight division and Diaz just below him at #7. The Fox card begins Saturday, May 5 at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT, with prelims starting at 5 p.m. ET / 2 p.m. PT on Fuel TV.
What was already an intriguing fight got a little more interesting this week. Dana White announced that, for Nate Diaz at least, a UFC Lightweight title shot is on the line here, as Diaz will move on to face the winner of Frankie Edgar vs. Ben Henderson should he defeat Miller. For Miller, a win here will move him 1 or 2 fights away from that shot. Aside from those title implications, this is still a fascinating fight. You have the Diaz style boxing and Cesar Gracie Jiu Jitsu of Nate going up against the rugged grappling and submission game of Miller. It's a great clash that could play out in many ways.
How do these two stack up?
Miller: 28 years old | 5'8" | 71" reach
Diaz: 27 years old | 6'0" | 76" reach
What have these two done recently?
How did these two get here?
Just one year ago, Jim Miller was one fight away from a title shot. His impressive win streak brought him to a clash with Ben Henderson where a Miller win would likely launch him into #1 contender status. But Henderson upset Miller, eventually using that momentum to claim the belt himself. Miller has since bounced back with a big win over Guillard, but he's in a tough spot now. With Henderson currently holding the title, and Miller having such a definitive recent loss to him, you can see why a win here won't guarantee him a title shot this time. But if he keeps winning, that shot will become more and more difficult to deny.
Nate Diaz is a former Ultimate Fighter winner who came into the UFC in 2007 with a very promising future. But after winning his first 4 straight, he ran into problems as a series of grinding wrestlers defeated him. Nate dropped 3 of his next 4 and decided to move up to Welterweight. There, he went 2-2 before dropping back down. He returned late last year with a win over Pride veteran Takanori Gomi, then a great win over Donald Cerrone at UFC 141. There's a bit of marketing at play in Diaz's proposed title shot here, as the Diaz name has been hot in the past year thanks to big brother Nick, but a win over Miller would indeed make him a viable contender.
Why should you care?
The title contention is one reason, but this is also just a great fight. I'm fascinated to see how each man approaches this, and could see it going down in so many ways. This has the potential to be a real classic.
More UFC on Fox 3 preview coverage from Bloody Elbow after the jump.