LAS VEGAS – Jim Miller has been in the cage with Donald Cerrone before, but the numbers were a lot different when they first met nearly eight years ago.
Miller (34-16 MMA, 23-15 UFC) was supposed to fight Bobby Green on Saturday at UFC 276, but Green pulled out. It was the third time the two had been booked and the third time Green has pulled out.
But Miller found a willing replacement in Donald Cerrone (36-16 MMA, 23-13 UFC), who signed up for a rematch in the wake of Joe Lauzon pulling out of a fight against him the day of the bout less than two weeks ago.
Miller said Cerrone stepping in saved the day for him when he thought he wouldn’t get to stay on the UFC’s biggest pay-per-view of the year so far.
“It adds a little bit more,” Miller said. “There was a stressful couple of days where I didn’t know if I was going to get the opportunity to fight on this card because apparently, no one wanted to fight me on two weeks’ notice. But thankfully, ‘Cowboy’ stepped up.”
Miller and Cerrone are tied with Andrei Arlovski for the most wins in UFC history with 23, and Miller holds the UFC record for most fights in company history with 39. And while his fight with Cerrone will take place at welterweight, Miller has UFC records at lightweight for most fights, most wins and most finishes.
Cerrone is tied for the most post-fight bonuses in UFC history with 18 and is second to Miller for most wins at lightweight. He’s planning on retirement after he hits 50 walks to the cage in the WEC and UFC combined, and his walk against Miller will be his 48th.
“There’s never going to be a fight in the UFC that has as many octagon appearances, as many total wins in the UFC – there’s a lot of numbers in this one,” Miller said. “It’s a fight that I wanted to get before we both ride off into the sunset away from the sport. It was a no-brainer to take it when I got the opportunity.”
When the two first fought in a UFC main event in Atlantic City, N.J., in July 2014, Cerrone picked up his fourth straight win, fourth straight finish and fourth straight post-fight bonus with a second-round head kick knockout.
Four wins after that, Cerrone got a title shot against then-lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos. So his win over Miller was during the best run of his career.
For Miller, that loss started a stretch of four setbacks in five fights. But it was also during a time when Miller was trying to figure out how to adjust his life and fighting career around a diagnosis with Lyme disease.
He’s confident things will be different in the rematch. Miller has back-to-back wins by knockout. Cerrone hasn’t won in more than three years and has lost five straight fights – including four by knockout.
“As a competitor, I do want that opportunity for redemption,” Miller said. “I know where I was at leading up to that (first Cerrone) fight – it was not an easy camp. It was not an easy time in my life. I’m eight years older now. I’m not 30 years old and ranked in the top 10 anymore, but I know I’m a much more dangerous fighter today than I was back then and I’m ready to prove it.
“I do remember what happened in the last fight and I know ‘Cowboy’ is a dangerous guy. But I’ve also seen what happened in his last couple fights, so I’m looking to connect and hurt him and end it violently. That’s always my goal. Thirty-nine fights, 23 wins in the UFC, 51 fights altogether … I think there’s one time in my very first professional fight where I was smiling and happy about winning a decision. So that’s never my goal. It never has been my goal. It never will be my goal. If I get to that point (when) I’m just trying to game the clock, game the system and hope that three individuals are choosing me to win, then I know that it’s time for me to pack it up.”
Check out the full interview with Miller in the video above.
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