MMA Today: Jim Miller looks to put himself in title picture

May 3 2012 - 6:32pm

Jim Miller knows the upper echelon of the Ultimate Fighting Championship's lightweight division well.

Miller, a 28-year-old New Jersey native, suffered just three losses in his career, and each loss came to a fighter who dominated the title picture over the last two years. Frankie Edgar, who defeated Miller in 2006, held the lightweight title for nearly two years before he lost it to Benson Henderson -- who defeated Miller last year -- in February. Miller's other loss came in 2009 to Gray Maynard, who fought Edgar for the title twice in 2011.

With Edgar and Henderson slated for a rematch later this year, Miller can put himself back in the title picture Saturday night when he faces rising lightweight Nate Diaz in the main event of UFC on Fox 3. The card, which will be held at the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, N.J., can be seen live on Fox at 8 p.m. EDT/5 p.m. PDT.

"I'm just focused on our fight and whatever happens after that is of no concern to me right now," Miller said of a potential title opportunity. "But if I could win impressively then, really, who else are they going to put in there? ... I'm not even focused on it. ... I'm just focused on fighting Nate and getting a win."

Diaz, 15-7, won his last two fights over Takanori Gomi and Donald Cerrone after he dropped back down from welterweight to lightweight.

"Nate has great experience," said Miller, 21-3. "He's fought a lot of tough guys. He fought Maynard as well, and it was a closer fight than mine was with Gray. It's going to be a tough fight for either one of us, and it's going to take the best of everything that I have to beat him."

Welterweights Josh Koscheck and Johny Hendricks, middleweights Rousimar Palhares and Alan Belcher and heavyweights Pat Barry and Lavar Johnson complete the televised card.

The preliminaries, which air live on Fuel TV at 5 p.m. EDT/2 p.m. PDT, include: lightweights Tony Ferguson vs. Michael Johnson; flyweights John Dodson vs. Tim Elliott; welterweights John Hathaway vs. Pascal Krauss; flyweights Louis Gaudinot vs. John Lineker; lightweights Danny Castillo vs. John Cholish; and featherweights Dennis Bermudez vs. Pablo Garza.

Two additional preliminaries -- bantamweights Roland Delorme vs. Nick Denis and middleweights Mike Massenzio vs. Karlos Vemola -- will air an hour earlier at www.facebook.com/UFC.

-- Bellator Fighting Championships lightweight champion Michael Chandler will face Japanese veteran Akihiro Gono in a non-title bout in the main event of Friday's Bellator 67 event.

"I'm just excited to get back into the cage," Chandler said. "I fought four times in 2011 and I'm ready to get back to work. Gono has beaten some of the best fighters in the sport and this should be a good test for me."

The card, which will be held at the Casino Rama in Rama, Ontario, Canada, will air live on MTV 2 and EPIX at 8 p.m. EDT and on tape at 8 p.m. PDT.

The event will also feature the welterweight tournament semifinals. Tournament favorites Ben Saunders and Bryan Baker will meet in one semi, with David Rickels and Karl Amoussou matched in the other. Heavyweights Damian Grabowski will fight Dave Huckaba in the other televised bout.

The preliminaries, which can be seen at 7 p.m. EDT/4 p.m. PDT and 10 p.m. EDT/7 p.m. PDT on spike.com and bellator.com, include: welterweights Nathan Gunn vs. Dom O'Grady; featherweights Will Romero vs. Matt Veal; bantamweights Nick Kirk vs. David Harris; and lightweights Cosmo Alexandre vs. Lorawnt Nelson.

-- The UFC announced its scheduled main event for UFC 147, which featured middleweight champion Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen, will be moved to UFC 148. The promotion experienced difficulty securing a large venue for the card in Brazil and will put on a scaled-down event at a smaller venue.

-- Alistair Overeem was officially denied a license by the Nevada State Athletic Commission last week and subsequently suspended for nine months after he tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone last month.

-- Hector Lombard, who has not lost since 2006, vacated his Bellator middleweight championship and signed with the UFC. Lombard is expected to make his UFC debut against Brian Stann in August.

-- Urijah Faber's team took a 4-3 lead over Dominick Cruz's team during the opening round of "The Ultimate Fighter Live" to match fellow coach Urijah Faber. This week's episode, which can be seen live on Friday at 10 p.m. EDT and on tape delay at 10 p.m. PDT on FX, will feature Faber's Andy Ogle against Cruz's Mike Rio.

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