Saturday, March 5th, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada for UFC 196: “McGregor vs. Diaz” by Daniel Tom

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Jim Miller (25-7-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’8″ Age: 32 Weight: 155 lbs Reach: 75.5″
  • Last Fight: Submission loss / Michael Chiesa (12-10-15)
  • Camp: Miller Bros MMA (New Jersey)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Black Belt BJJ
+   3 KO victories
+   9 first round finishes
+   14 Submission wins
+   Dangerous short elbows
+   Accurate check right hooks
+   Solid leg/inside leg kicks
+   Aggressive pace & pressure
^   Gas tank bares watching
+   Dangerous transition game
^   Scrambles for submissions
–    Will give position for submissions
+   Active & attacking guard game
+/-Willingness to fight from bottom
–    1-4 against UFC southpaws

MMA: UFC 166-Melendez vs Sanchez

Diego Sanchez (25-8)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’10” Age: 34 Weight: 155 lbs Reach: 72″
  • Last Fight: Decision loss / Ricardo Lamas (11-21-15)
  • Camp: Jackson-Wink MMA (New Mexico)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair to poor

Supplemental info:
+   TUF 1 Winner
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Multiple grappling accolades
+   BJJ Black Belt
+   6 KO victories
+   11 first round finishes
+   Good pace & pressure
+   Hard left Thai kick
+/-Propensity to brawl
^   Counter availabilities
–    Dropped/hurt in 7 of last 10 bouts
+   Strong pressure against fence
^   Favors double-leg takedowns
+   Active & effective scrambler
+/-Durable but battle-worn
+   Excellent takedown defense


Setting the table for UFC 196 is another fantastic featured bout on UFC Fight Pass as the organization’s most notable savages Jim Miller & Diego Sanchez collide. With both fan favorites putting on memorable performances over the years, they are also both desperate for wins at this stage of their career. Jim Miller, who’s coming off a loss to TUF 15 winner Michael Chiesa, will now be tasked with taking out the original Ultimate Fighter. The durable Diego Sanchez has plied his trade at multiple weight classes throughout his long career with the company. Most recently coming off a loss at featherweight, Diego will attempt his third run at lightweight against the division’s staple.

Starting off on the feet, is the rare but intriguing battle of southpaws. Often when two southpaws cross paths, the better on paper striker does not necessarily hold the advantage. With left sided strikers being hard to come by in gyms, usually the fighter who is more comfortable/can adapt to this scenario tends to excel. Although he has officially gone 1 in 4 against UFC southpaws, I give the edge to Miller in standing exchanges. Being a more technical striker with a larger arsenal to pull from, I expect Jim will attempt to exploit his perceived advantages standing.

Even though Sanchez is officially 4-0 against UFC southpaws, those matches are over a decade old and hold little relevance here. What is relevant is the technical improvements Diego has made standing since rejoining Mike Winklejohn at Jackson-Wink MMA. Showing better strike retractions and a tighter standing guard, Sanchez has demonstrated a more measured approach in his application of aggression. Despite the more defensively minded methods, Diego still consistently comes hard early and late to steal rounds. With Sanchez being difficult to stop, this strategy will force Miller to manage his gas peddle & tank.

A fighter with both killer instinct and output, Miller’s aggressive & exciting style has shown to come at a high price. Jim’s willingness to live and die by the sword has been a detriment to his fight stamina as of late, with failed finish attempts being the common culprit to the momentum shifts in defeat. His best chances to avoid this is to dictate offensive terms by keeping this on the feet and putting in deposits early. Although Sanchez has never been knocked out, he has been hurt or dropped in 7 of his last 10 fights. Wielding excellent leg kicks, Miller uses them to disrupt his opponents striking base and open them up for punches. As Ricardo Lamas had success with this in Diego’s last bout, I suspect we will see Jim employ similar tactics.

Should Miller mind his foot placements and plots, Diego may once again be forced to engage his scar tissue and see the scorecards in a standing affair. However, I feel takedowns will be more than available to hit for Sanchez should he choose. Not bearing the best takedown defense, Miller is also notorious for dropping positions for submission attempts. Like a kid in a candy shop, Jim just can’t help himself when presented with a limb or a neck. Despite the suspenseful submission artist scoring some serious scalps(Submitting Charles Oliveira & Fabricio Camoes), Miller’s ground stylings have shown to struggle with strong positional grapplers. Sanchez presents this exact prototype, as the former wrestler has yet to be submitted in his storied career. Even though Jim is dangerous in the scramble, Diego may be the more effective scrambler in grappling exchanges.

Displaying an urgency retain a top control, Sanchez could very well wear on Miller should the outdoorsman choose to hunt from the bottom. Jim Miller certainly has the skills to submit Sanchez, especially if he can get him hurt and in transition. As someone who has been a huge Miller fan & supporter through the years, I would love to see him get the win here. However, as an analyst, I cannot help but feel that this stylistic matchup favors Sanchez. Despite his last finish coming in 2008 and his last decisive win coming in 2010, Diego’s skillset is still an on paper kryptonite to Miller. If Jim can’t find a finish or make a serious dent in Diego’s durability early, he may be subjected to some relentless waves. Given each man’s late-career struggles & inconsistencies, I recommend caution on playing this match heavily. Instead, I suggest you enjoy what has the makings of a memorable bout between two fighters whom you’ll miss when gone.

Official Pick: Sanchez – Decision

Official Outcome: To be determined.

Preliminary Card Predictions

  • Thatch def. Bahadurzada
  • Silva def. Taleb
  • Miranda def. Guimaraes
  • Skelly def. Elkins
  • Sanchez def. Miller
  • Saggo def. Salas
  • Erosa def. Ishihara

Recommended Plays

Fantasy MMA Picks

High Tier Picks:

-Conor McGregor
-Erick Silva
-Alir Latifi

Low Tier Picks:

-Nate Diaz
-Valentina Schevchenko
-Miesha Tate

Pieces for your parlay:

-Vitor Miranda
-Brandon Thatch
-Chas Skelly

Props worth looking at(5Dimes):

-Silva/Taleb – Under +125
-Nunes/Schevchenko – Over +100
-Chas Skelly – inside the distance +234

Fights to avoid:

-Erosa vs Ishihara
-Anderson vs Lawlor
-Latifi vs Villante

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