In middleweight action, The Ultimate Fighter season three winner and Britain's face of mixed martial arts Michael Bisping (18-3, 8-3 UFC) will battle hardened veteran Dan Miller (11-3, 3-2 UFC) in a contest that could either save Miller's career with the UFC or put Bisping back in the mix with top-flight middleweights. Both Bisping and Miller are coming off losses as Miller has dropped decisions to current UFC middleweight contender Chael Sonnen and former contender Demian Maia while Bisping lost an unanimous decision to Wanderlei Silva. Miller would amass three straight losses with a defeat, but it may be premature to believe his contract is in danger as he did battle two contenders in previous contests. A loss for Bisping would undoubtedly cast some negative light on his potential to be a top-flight fighter, or as I would say -- fuel the fire that's already burning after the loss to a weathered Silva.
There are a couple of different storylines that make this an appealing fight to look forward to at UFC 114. The obvious stylistic match-up is attractive to fans intrigued by how each fighter will scheme against one another, but there is an underlying emotional journey for Dan Miller in this fight as he's not only been defeated by two contenders -- but he's entered those contests with the emotional weight of a wife and child on his mind.
As Kid Nate pointed out in a piece outlining some of Miller's past complications in his personal life, Miller and his wife, Kristen, lost their first child at birth days before Miller was scheduled to battle current contender Chael Sonnen. Miller's second child, Daniel, was born in the lead-up to his battle with Demian Maia, but Daniel has had complications since birth that are still causing problems and threatening his life. For anyone who has children, the emotional toll that these types of uncontrollable factors brings to a family can be detrimental, yet Miller still persevered through the emotional turmoil to fulfill his contractual obligations to the UFC.
The Miller brothers are well-known for their toughness, and the story of Dan Miller's situation certainly lends more evidence to the fact that their surname is synonymous with "won't quit", "tough as nails", or any other phrase you'd like to attach. Despite all of these issues, Miller continues to wade through the emotions and forge ahead. Whether or not that's a good or bad thing is up to everyone reading these stories, but one thing is for certain -- Dan never quits.
These types of stories definitely sway the fanbase toward the underdog who is trying to battle through life's unfortunate situations. And it certainly adds another element to the hate mongering that Michael Bisping continues to receive to this day. While the fanbase sways to support Miller through these tough times, the objective observer still sees this match-up for what it is -- a fight between two solid fighters who excel in different areas.
Miller brings one of the more unique arsenal of skills to every fight. He's a solid wrestler who happens to have a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, a very formidable combination of skills that allows Miller to not only gain takedowns, but actually submit opponents. Bisping could be considered the opposite style in comparison, although he is well-known for taking down opponents and bombing opponents with effective ground and pound. His bread and butter will more than likely rely on his footwork and striking skills, and I imagine the Demian Maia fight only gave him further confidence that he could pummel Miller on the feet.
Miller's dislocated thumb definitely affected his performance against Maia, but his footwork and positioning wasn't ideal in avoiding the blows that a rather green striker in Maia was throwing. Bisping is going to be much more damaging with his strikes, and his footwork should be ideal in countering Miller's shot for the takedown.
Bisping also seems to be rather tough to control on the ground, and we can probably chalk that up to his strength and conditioning along with his increasing knowledge in the grappling arena. All those factors lead me to an outcome favoring Bisping. I think he'll batter Miller standing on his way to a decision. If Miller can actually put Bisping down, it could be a rude awakening for Bisping, but I think Bisping is at an advantage in this style match-up.