Veterans and possible future hall of famers square off for a rematch of their original 2014 matchup.
Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone has lived up to his mantra of being willing to fight anyone, anywhere, anytime with an extensive 36-16-1 professional record. Recently though, the former lightweight contender has been on a skid, going 0-5-1 in his last 6 fights.
Jim “A-10” Miller, too, has an impressive record. Professionally, Miller is 34-16. Unlike his counterpart who has struggled lately, Miller seems to be unaffected by age. He knocked out an up and coming prospect in his most recent fight. Together, Cerrone and Miller have finished 51 fights.
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Jim Miller is a sizable favorite against Donald Cerrone before UFC 276.
As with many veterans of a sport, prime Cerrone compared to current Cerrone are two very different fighters.
Prime Cerrone was an aggressive but calculated madman in the octagon who was more than happy to stand toe to toe and brawl his way to victory. He was also happy to play a calculated range striking game with his kickboxing. No matter the striking style, Cerrone made his hay on being dangerous regardless of where the fight went. Beyond being a varied kickboxer, Cerrone was an adept scrambler and submission artist.
Historically, Cerrone’s achilles heels have been his glass midsection and tendency to start slowly. Over the course of a bloody and taxing career, Cerrone’s chin has remained mostly intact but his midsection has become vulnerable. Body kicks specifically severely hurt “Cowboy.” Additionally, Cerrone has continued his tendency to start fights slowly, getting a read in round 1 but often losing the round, only to rally back and win later in the fight. Current Cerrone has the same deficits, vulnerable midsection and a propensity to start slowly, but, his striking is not as fast or as dangerous.
Now, at 39 years old, Cerrone still has the footwork to strike at range and the mindset to survive a brawl but his striking is a step behind most other fighters in the division. The best path to victory for Cerrone is to pepper strike from range where he can rely on experience and clinch against the cage if his opponent closes distance. If an opponent can capitalize on the speed advantage or initiate a brawl, Cerrone has shown a troubling inability to win.
Uniquely, prime Miller and current Miller are very similar fighters. He is a crafty submission ace with sneaky power in his hands. Miller often relies on an excellent chin to engage in fire fights on the feet. He favors a powerful left hook in close that still packs the power to drop and finish a fighter. Then, if the standup battle begins to tilt in favor of his opponent, Miller will rush forward, engage the clinch or shoot a takedown.
In either case, Miller smothers his opponent constantly while looking for a submission. He’s won 18 fights via submission. “Old man strength,” or the ability to grit his way to a victory, is Miller’s typical path to victory. Young or old, though, Miller has proven he can still finish fights. His biggest issue is his cardio. Miller, typically, has 7-8 minutes to find the finish, otherwise, his opponent can often take over the fight and Miller has lost close decisions.
Predicting this fight comes down to one simple question, does Cerrone have the durability to survive Miller’s pressure for 7-8 minutes without getting hurt or finished? If he can, Cerrone could take over late and steal another decision behind crafty range striking. If not, Miller could get back to back finishes.
I think this fight is closer than the odds suggest but still like Miller to find a path to victory; at this point in their careers, Miller seems to have more in the tank than Cerrone. Look for Miller to hurt Cerrone in the first and find the finish soon after.
Pick: Miller to win inside the distance (+105 odds at BetUS)
Michael Pounders is a high school English Teacher, a boxer himself, and is a fan who loves, gambles on, and nerds out about all things MMA.