BALTIMORE - If you plan on putting down the cash for the pay per view portion of UFC 172, you'll see a familiar face in the corner of Jim Miller. That face belongs to his brother Dan, a UFC fighter himself.
Dan (14-7-0-1) last fought in March 2013. That fight, his second since dropping from middleweight to welterweight, did not end favorably for the elder Miller, as he was stopped in the first round by the punches of Jordan Mein. Since that defeat we haven't heard much from Miller, and that's for a very good reason - he's been recovering from spinal fusion surgery.
Miller told Bloody Elbow that the surgery was required because, "I had a herniated disc between C5 and C6 and it got to the point where it was detrimental. I had numbness in my fingers and I tried to go the physically therapy route and it wasn't working. So, I needed surgery. They went in and put a cadaver bone in and fused it, and it healed up good."
Miller said he had been having problems with his neck for a few years, and had been able to work through the pain. That changed around the time he dropped to welterweight to face Ricardo Funch at UFC on Fox 4. In the lead up to that fight, which Miller won by submission (earning Submission of the Night), whenever he would get a stinger Miller would have to stop training. After the bout, Miller took almost a year off, hoping the rest would allow his neck to heal - it didn't.
By the time he stepped into cage to face Mein at UFC 158, Miller said "Any little thing would set it off." It was at that point he came to terms with the fact that therapy was not going to fix the problem and he opted for surgery.
The surgery was not undertaken because the problem had become a quality of life issue. As Miller said, "I physically couldn't train through it anymore. On both hands I had numbness in all my fingers."
The all clear to get back to training came in February, and since that time Miller has slowly been getting back into the swing of things. He did admit that there is some trepidation that comes along with getting back into training. "I try and put it out of my head," said Miller. "But it's something that is there. I just started rolling a little bit, and it is there - the thought is there, but I think, as I get more comfortable it will go away."
During his time off, Miller also put his energy toward opening a gym with his brother. When the gym is fully functioning, the Miller brothers plan on making it their base of operations, as Miller said, "It's literally two seconds from Jim's house, and it's five minutes from my house. It makes life a lot easier. It's a big enough spot that we'll have everything we need in one spot so it will make everything a lot easier, especially with kids." Miller added that the new space would be an affiliate of AMA, the Whippany, NJ gym the brothers both call home.
As for when we can expect to see Miller back in the Octagon he said he hadn't spoke to the UFC about things just yet, but that he is "chomping at the bit," and plans to be back fighting in the welterweight division sometime in late summer or fall.
No conversation with Dan Miller would be complete without asking about his son, Dan Jr. who underwent kidney transplant surgery in 2012. When asked how his son has been since the surgery, the proud father smiled and replied, "He's doing excellent. He's been doing really well, and he's becoming a typical four-year old."