Note: I am not an unbiased source regarding the Miller brothers, as Dan Miller is my brother-in-law and I have been following the brothers since their careers began on the local Jersey shows. Due to the conflict of interest, the breakdown for Jim Miller will be provided by Ben Bauman.
It's not often that the main event of a UFC show features two fighters coming off losses. Then again, it's not often that a fight between two fighters coming off losses is also one which promises to immediately inject the winner back into the thick of the #1 contender's race. In the case of Jim Miller and Melvin Guillard, who headline Friday's UFC on FX card, a division which just months ago had too many fighters with title-shot worthy resumes now sees no ranked fighter on a streak longer than two outside of the current title challenger. With both men highly ranked in the division, there is much on the line as the winner will find himself paired off with another top-10 fighter, while two straight defeats will send the loser back into the pack.
Miller is the dark horse of the UFC's lightweight division. In a nutshell, he is like the Jon Fitch of 155, only Miller finishes fights often. Miller owns a UFC record of 9-2 with only losses to UFC title challengers Gray Maynard and Ben Henderson. Miller is coming off that loss to Henderson in August. Before that he reeled off seven straight UFC wins, including smashing Kamal Shalorus at UFC 128 and a kneebar win over talented prospect Charles Oliveira at UFC 124.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Miller is well rounded (isn't every UFC fighter at 155?) with serviceable striking, top-notch wrestling, and superb submission grappling. Against Melvin Guilliard, both fighters have a 71 inch reach. While Guilliard possesses the faster hands, Miller is a very technical boxer who will land significant strikes as well. Miller's easiest path to victory is with a submission, and Guilliard has lost five UFC fights by a variety of chokes.
For Miller, the biggest weakness in this fight is if he is unable to takedown Guilliard or clinch him against the cage for significant amounts of time. Guilliard does have excellent knockout power with both hands, so grounding him or closing the distance is recommended.
With six fighters making their UFC debut on Friday's "UFC on FX 1" fight card, there are many unknowns for your fight picks and parlays. Take a stand on the four main card fights and make these fights your higher locks of the night. As of Thursday morning, Jim Miller was a modest favorite (-165) in Vegas. With the fans on MMA Playground Miller is a two to one favorite (-200)-which is exactly how the fight is being picked on Sherdog with 67% picking Miller. Last year I was among the tiny minority who picked Melvin Guilliard to KO Evan Dunham on the "Fight For the Troops" main event. In January 2012, I see no such repeat for "the Young Assassin".
Melvin Guillard by yours truly after the jump.
Like Miller, Guillard was on a winning streak of his own until his last bout, having strung together five-consecutive wins. The streak got off to a rocky start, at least as far as a winning streak can be rocky, with a KO of Waylon Lowe sandwiched between a pair of contentious decisions over Ronys Torres and Jeremy Stephens. Guillard left no room for doubt in his next two bouts, however, making short work of Evan Dunham and Shane Roller to put himself in the thick of title talks. It all came crashing down around Guillard in Houston, however, as he ran into a Joe Lauzon jab that rocked Guillard, and soon found his back taken before succumbing to a rear naked choke.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Normally when a fighter has very clear and apparent strengths, and very clear and apparent weaknesses it breaks down in the form of a one-dimensional fighter either skilled on the feet and helpless on the ground, or the exact opposite. With Guillard, there's the interesting situation where Melvin has a distinct strength and a distinct weakness in both areas. On the feet, Guillard is one of the quickest and hardest hitters around. On the flip side, his defense is often lacking and his chin can be questioned as he has been dropped by what appeared to be light shots by grapplers more than once. In the grappling side of the game, Guillard is a strong wrestler that has stuffed the shots of many great wrestlers in his time. Unfortunately for Guillard, when opponents do manage to get him down he has proven to be highly submitable.
The longer this fight goes, the worse things begin to look for Guillard. Nobody doubts his ability to put anyone to sleep if one of his big shots lands, however his vulnerabilities to a well-rounded opponent are also well known. If you think Melvin is taking this fight, the best chance he has is to land on Miller hard and to land on him early, so go with the round one TKO. For fantasy betting, Guillard is a +185 option, which offers a slightly better line than the Vegas books. While I will be staying away from Guillard, if you like him to land a hook that puts the tough-chinned Miller down, +185 is an appealing line for both a parlay and a straight play.