The Face-Off – UFC on Fox: Diaz vs. Miller

Nate Diaz vs. Jim Miller (Josh Hedges/UFC)

Breaking down Nate Diaz vs. Jim Miller

Just hours away from UFC on Fox: Diaz vs. Miller, HeavyMMA’s Duane Finley and Nate Lawson give their takes on the evening’s main event, a lightweight tilt between contenders Jim Miller and Nate Diaz. This is The Face-Off.

The Case for Miller: Duane Finley (4-3)
As the faithful readers of HeavyMMA have come to expect, whenever a big fight rolls around that means it is time for yours truly and Nate “Don’t Call Me Daughter” Lawson to throw down in The Face-Off. This go around we have two of the toughest fighters on the planet squaring off as scrappy Jim Miller takes on Stockton, Calif., bad boy Nate Diaz.

Describing a professional fighter as tough is an understatement, but to make things perfectly clear, there are different levels of toughness. The particular brand carried by Miller is the type that doesn’t allow his body to quit and generates a driving force within him to gnash his teeth and power through. If that was his only weapon, Miller would still have a high percentage of success. But when you add in a slick jiu-jitsu game and a continuously improving striking game, Miller is flat out a difficult night’s work in the cage.

In the matchup with Diaz, Miller’s strength and wrestling are going to be his biggest weapons. Since returning to the lightweight division, Diaz has shredded his opposition with overwhelming output and pinpoint accuracy. Both Takanori Gomi and Donald Cerrone chose to test their luck at the end of his reach, and the outcomes were brutal. Most of the opposition Diaz has faced want no part of his ground game, but with Miller it will be a much different story.

Diaz has struggled against wrestlers, and with Miller not only will he find top-notch wrestling, but an opponent who isn’t afraid to roll around with him. If their bout Saturday night were to stay on the feet for the entire five rounds, then I would give a slight advantage to Diaz. But Miller is hungry to get the respect he deserves and is going into the fight with a “win at all costs” mentality. Diaz will get his shots in early but Miller takes him down and grinds out the victory. The win will put Miller a step closer to his long-awaited title shot and will be the second time I’ve successfully defended The Face-Off strap.

That’s how I see it. That’s how it’s going down.

Prediction: Miller def. Diaz via unanimous decision

The Case for Diaz: Nate Lawson (3-4)
In last edition of The Face-Off, I came up short – or should I say, Thiago Silva did? But I’m not one to dish out blame, nor am I one to get upset at being given a nickname referencing a Pearl Jam song. Come on, I hear Eddie Vedder’s voice every time I read it. Oh, and I’m definitely not one to run away from an underdog because the last one didn’t pay off.

Enter Nate Diaz.

Obviously, Diaz isn’t the type of underdog where you just don’t see winning a possibility. A fighter with the “never (and I mean never) say die” mentality that he possesses is always in a contest, unless that fighter is matched up against freak-prospect Rory MacDonald. Give Diaz a pass on that one.

But, against a guy like Jim Miller, the type of fighter who is rugged, gritty and will grind you down to nothing, Diaz’s mentality is hardly enough to win the contest. Combine it with his boxing, however, and you’ve got something.

Diaz certainly does not possess insane knockout power. In fact, he can’t really match his brother’s power, even though they have the same striking game. But, in the lightweight division, it really is tough to find anyone with consistent knockout power.

So, while I don’t expect a knockout, I do expect five rounds of pesky punches from him and, as we’ve seen from both Nate and Nick, those add up.

Still, Diaz has the takedown to worry about, and it truly does humor me when Diaz’s losses to Joe Stevenson and Clay Guida are referenced. Since I don’t waste time in the past, those bouts in 2009 are basically irrelevant. Diaz was nowhere close to contention then, but he is now. And that’s because he is a better fighter, and one that will be able to deal when it comes to takedowns and grappling.

While, Miller will work the takedown in a couple times during the fight, I’ll admit, as much as I hate to use a cliche, the fight starts on the feet. This fight starts on the feet five times, in fact, giving Diaz plenty of opportunities to recover if the early going is rough.

Prediction: Diaz def. Miller via unanimous decision

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