A fight between UFC veterans Diego Sanchez and Jim Miller isn’t traditionally the type of fight you’d expect to find on the early prelims of a pay-per-view event. But now that the UFC is ramping up its Fight Pass streaming service, Sanchez and Miller headlined the Fight Pass portion of UFC 196: McGregor vs. Diaz on Saturday night in Las Vegas.
Sanchez has been fighting in the Octagon since the inaugural season of The Ultimate Fighter in 2005, while Miller has been fighting for the UFC since 2008. They entered their bout on Saturday night with a lot on the line as both had lost three of their four most recent fights.
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With both men desperate for a win, Sanchez opened the fight in a fury, instantly rushing across the cage to try and overwhelm Miller out of the gate. Being the veteran that he is, Miller was prepared for Sanchez’s opening salvo and landed a knee on his charging foe.
After that, the fight settled into more of a rhythm with Miller edging ahead in the stand-up exchanges, hanging back and countering, while Sanchez pressed the action, trying to find a home for his combinations.
Midway through the opening round, Sanchez shot a double-leg takedown and put Miller on his back. Sanchez excels in the ground-and-pound range, and this fight was no different. While Miller tried to find a way to escape out from under him, Sanchez kept the pressure on, doing a lot of work landing punches and elbows to Miller’s body, which may have paid off later in the fight.
Miller continued to counter most of Sanchez’s stand-up attempts in round two, but Sanchez caught him off balance early in the round and put him on the canvas briefly. They exchanged more on the feet, again with Miller getting the better of Sanchez, eventually landing a head kick and left hook that seemed to rock Sanchez a bit.
Sanchez tried to shoot in the final minute of round two, but got caught in a front choke, where Miller unloaded with several knees to his head and body. Sanchez finally escaped Miller’s clutches and shot for another takedown in the waning seconds of the round, but Miller deftly avoided the takedown and took Sanchez’s back just before the horn.
The final frame was about as close as it gets. They each scored a takedown, but neither could secure an advantage. Their stand-up was close, but Sanchez was the one continually pressing forward as Miller started to breathe a little deeper as the final minutes wound down.
He couldn’t find the finish, but Sanchez, as he always does, found another gear in the final few seconds, unleashing a flurry on Miller that may have given him the slightest of edges in the judges’ minds.
“I take my hat off to Jim Miller. He’s a stand-up guy, a man’s man,” Sanchez said after the fight. “I was a little more cautious. I didn’t leave it all out there like I normally do, but I needed to get back in the win column. Jim is dangerous, so I played it safe.
His efforts were enough to get the win with the judges scoring the fight 29-28 on all three scorecards.
With the win, Sanchez moves to 26-8, while Miller falls to 25-8 and 1 no contest.