I will not sit here and claim the UFC under the stewardship of the Fertitta brothers wasn’t a money-making endeavor. It was. Despite that, there was still a bit of a mom-an-pop shop feel to the promotion during those days. There were some fighters who seemed to earn a great deal of respect from some of the UFC brass, and Jim Miller was one of them. Today? Well, I’ll cover that, but not so much.
Miller was — and remains — the ideal UFC fighter. He is one of very few fighters the promotion can still point to and say, “Look at Jim Miller. That’s how you have a long career in the UFC. Follow that blueprint and you’ll make it.”
Miller joined the UFC in 2008. He was 10-1 and a former Cage Fury Fighting Championship titleholder. The kid from Sparta, New Jersey opened his UFC run with a submission victory, which earned him a “Submission of the Night” bonus. He followed that with a decision win in his next outing. He and his opponent in that scrap, Matt Wiman, took home “Fight of the Night” honors that night. With those two efforts, Miller set the tone for his UFC career.
The UFC has always wanted fighters who go for the finish and not just when they have their opponent hurt or in danger. The promotion wants fighters it can place on a card and know that fans will tune in because of their reputation for excitement. Miller was that fighter in 2008 and he has never stopped being that fighter.
You want some proof? Check the record, bud. The 38-year-old Miller heads into his UFC 276 matchup opposite Bobby Green on the strength of two second-round knockouts.
EXPERIENCE ON DISPLAY!!!!!!!
@JimMiller_155 dots the i on his record setting night! #UFCVegas40 pic.twitter.com/yWXAo1ZYuw
— UFC (@ufc) October 17, 2021
Despite Miller’s recent record and the high probability that he and Green will be in the running for some extra scratch after the UFC 276 fight card, the UFC has left Miller unsure of what the future holds for him.
“To be perfectly honest, the UFC is having me fight out my contract,” Miller told BJPENN.com. “I win and I still don’t know if there is another UFC fight. Who knows? I don’t really care or worry about what happens next.”
“Apparently. Coming off two knockouts and apparently, I’m fighting out my contract,” Miller added. “It is where we are, it doesn’t affect anything, it doesn’t change anything. I still have a job to do July 2 and I’m planning on doing it to the best of my ability. We will see what happens and go from there.”
How’s that for loyalty? How’s that for rewarding a job well done over a career that has spanned more than 14 years with the same organization? I can’t help but think if the UFC was still owned by the Fertitta brothers that Miller would be one of those guys who would get the chance to go out on his own terms.
But that’s not in the cards. Instead, with the UFC of today putting profits over people, Miller could find himself on the outside looking in. Or at the very least, the UFC could present him with a lowball offer.
Base pay in UFC contracts typically increase with every win, and with Miller being a tenured veteran with 23 wins, perhaps he’s now getting too “expensive” for the promotion.
Because, God knows, it’s tough times in Vegas for the UFC. After all, how can a company who keeps setting financial records and reportedly exceeded $1 billion in revenue over the past 12 months be expected to reward one of its most accomplished fighters with a favorable contract?
And what has Miller done during his career? No, he never held — or fought — for a title, but that’s a minor point when one considers what Miller did for the UFC and the UFC’s fans.
No one has more than Miller’s 39 UFC fights (40 when he steps into face Green). Miller is also first in career submission attempts with 45. He is second in career wins with 23. He’s third in finishes with 15 and third in submissions with 10. Finally, as far as “bringing it” goes, Miller is sixth in fight-night bonus wins with 13, with his last one from October 2021. With that, spare me any age has caught up with him quips.
As for intangibles. Miller fought with undiagnosed Lyme disease for a few years. He never pulled out of a fight until September 2021, when COVID knocked him from a bout that was scheduled for September 18 of that year. However, he made it to the cage for an October 16, 2021 “Performance of the Night” winning knockout of Erick Gonzalez. He also accepted fights on short notice without question.
Perhaps the best example of what Jim Miller has been about during his UFC career came compliments of former UFC matchmaker Joe Silva — who bounced soon after the sale of the UFC. Silva, looking to book Miller a fight in December 2016, got a simple reply from Miller via text. It said, “I’m in.” To which Silva, fully knowing who he was dealing with, replied, “Of course you are. You’re Jim F-cking Miller.”
Miller is still “Jim F-cking Miller” and with how the promotion is treating him, the UFC is telling every fighter on the roster, there is no reward for hard work, loyalty, or literally laying your future health on the line for the promotion. If the UFC wants fighters like Jim Miller on its roster, it needs to do more for fighters like Jim Miller.
Bloody Elbow reached out to the UFC for comment on Miller’s statement regarding his contract situation. The promotion did not reply.
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