If Jim Miller gets past Charles Oliveira at UFC 124 on Saturday night, the message will be loud and clear. He wants a Top 10 opponent, he wants to get into title contention, and then he wants to earn a shot to fight the champion in the lightweight division.
Following his win over Gleison Tibau in September, Miller wrapped up his fifth win in a row, and seventh win overall in the UFC. He admits that when he got the call to come back and fight in December, he expected a former champion to be greeting him across the Octagon.
“A little unexpected at first,” Miller told MMAWeekly Radio about the offer to face Oliveira. “I was hoping that I would get (Sean) Sherk, but he’s a tough kid and it will be a good fight. It’s my fourth fight this year, so I really can’t complain. I’d rather fight than sit and have a long layoff again.”
Oliveira is 2-0 so far in the UFC, with his last win coming on the same night as Miller’s latest fight, when he submitted former “Ultimate Fighter” winner Efrain Escudero. The young Brazilian is seen as a rising star, and Miller knows just how tough he will be.
That doesn’t mean Miller didn’t hope for a Top 10 opponent going into Saturday.
“I want to fight the baddest guys on the planet. This kid’s definitely tough, but he hasn’t proved himself against the top competition,” said Miller. “I wanted one of the top guys. Like I said, it’s a fight, it’s going to happen, and I’m excited for it and ready to go.”
Many fighters in the UFC have taken the time after a win to grab the mic from commentator Joe Rogan and ask for a fight with a particular opponent. Many times after that moment the fights are made, but the New Jersey native said calling someone out just isn’t his style.
“There’s just things I’m not comfortable doing. I’m ready to fight for the title, I’m ready to fight one of these top guys, fight for a contendership fight, there’s no doubt in my mind,” Miller stated. “But they make the fights that they want to make. If this is the fight they felt they needed to make, then my job is to go in there and beat this kid up.”
Miller’s only loss in the UFC has been to current top lightweight contender Gray Maynard. His only other career defeat was years ago to current UFC champion Frankie Edgar. The AMA Fight Club team member wants more opportunities like that in the future.
Miller has been scheduled to face fighters like Sean Sherk and Tyson Griffin in the past, only to have the injury bug bite someone just weeks out from the showdown, losing the prominent showdowns that he craves.
Miller wants everyone to know that he wants to fight the best guys in the division, because that’s the only way to get to the top.
“I think the problem I’ve had is I haven’t had those high profile opponents and it’s not because I’m not trying to fight them,” said Miller.
If he gets past Oliveira at UFC 124, Miller is ready to step outside of his normal behavior and make a little bit of noise if it will get the job done.
“I’ve been asking for it and pushing for it,” he said about his desire to fight a Top 10 opponent. “I want it.”
Miller will try to take out his frustration on Oliveira first and then look to call for a fight against one of the UFC’s elite before the night is over.