by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
Losing two fights in a row does not bode well for fighters on the UFC roster. Many fighters are dropped after back-to-back losses, and if they aren’t, a third straight loss is almost an automatic pink slip.
Five fights into his career in the Octagon and Dan Miller finds himself teetering on the brink of the fateful third straight loss.
The former International Fight League (IFL) middleweight champion started strong in the UFC, racking up three straight victories, including submission wins over Rob Kimmons and Jake Rosholt. But the bottom fell out after his win over Rosholt.
Chael Sonnen, who challenges Anderson Silva for the middleweight title in August, took Miller down and pounded on him for the course of their three-round fight. Then Demian Maia, submission wizard extraordinaire, bucked his usual trend and outboxed Miller for three rounds.
Miller found himself on the outside looking in at back-to-back unanimous decision losses. He had never lost two in a row before.
He now finds himself fighting for his Octagon life at UFC 114 where he faces “The Ultimate Fighter Season 3″ winner Michael Bisping. The bout was elevated to co-main event status when Forrest Griffin had to pull out of the original co-main event with Antonio Rogerio Nogueira due to a shoulder injury.
“I didn’t expect it, but very happy with it,” Miller said of the bump up on the fight card.
He knows what a victory – or a loss – means when he faces Bisping, but insists the pressure isn’t any heavier on his shoulders than any other fight, mainly because he has such high expectations of himself.
“I always want to win and I always put the same pressure on myself that it’s a must win. Every fight is a must win,” he told MMAWeekly.com recently.
“I’m not in this fight game to just be here and fight and stuff. I want to be the best and I want to be known as the best. You have to win every fight. You have to win your fights dominantly and impressively.
“There’s no more pressure, just I gotta win.”
Bisping has gone 8-3 in his UFC tenure, 18-3 overall, but is also coming off of a loss, albeit a single loss, to Wanderlei Silva. So Miller is keenly aware that the Brit will be trying to right his own ship at the same time him.
“I know Mike is a really good fighter. I’ve got a ton of respect for the man. I can’t wait to fight him. I think it’s gonna be an exciting fight,” said Miller.
“I’m always looking for those types of fights. Every fight, I want to fight a good guy.”
Miller’s record is strong, 11-3, but he knows he’s got to step up his game if he wants to remain in the UFC, and that starts with Bisping. He has a strong training camp at AMA Fight Club, including his brother and fellow UFC fighter Jim, so Miller hasn’t scrapped his normal preparations, he’s just refocused on getting better.
“I’ve had a really good training camp, been learning a lot and improving,” he said. “I’m just trying to get better. I’m trying to get better at everything. I don’t concentrate on just one thing. I know that I have a lot of improvement (to make). I have a lot of holes in my game everywhere. So it’s basically, I’m just trying to get better everywhere.”
After Bisping showed strong improvements in his ground game when he defeated Kang, Miller’s not taking it for granted that all he’s got to do is be prepared for Bisping’s striking game and take him to the mat.
“When he’s moving forward and throwing punches and throwing kicks, it always gives me an opportunity to take the fight to the mat,” he assessed. “But you never know. I didn’t know Demian (Maia) was gonna come in and only strike with me. I don’t know his game plan. We can look at old fights and think he might do this, but you never know. You never know until the fight starts and you’re in there. I’m just prepared for everything.
“I always go in and try to put on good fights. (The UFC) knows that I’m gonna bring it. It doesn’t matter who it is, I’m just gonna go in there and fight my fight.”