UFC Vegas 74: At 39, ‘stubborn’ Jim Miller not ready to call it quits just yet

UFC Fight Night: Kara-France vs Albazi: MMA and UFC veteran Jim Miller aims to prolong his career by competing against fighters more than a decade younger than him. 

Published : Jun 03, 2023 21:05 IST , CHENNAI - 5 MINS READ

At 39, Miller is still determined to take on fighters more than a decade younger than him in the UFC.
At 39, Miller is still determined to take on fighters more than a decade younger than him in the UFC. | Photo Credit: Getty Images

At 39, Miller is still determined to take on fighters more than a decade younger than him in the UFC. | Photo Credit: Getty Images

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) legend Jim Miller is set to appear in a record-extending 54th outing when he faces his compatriot Jared Gordon in UFC Fight Night: Kara-France vs Albazi at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas on Saturday night.

Miller holds the record for appearing in the most bouts (41) in UFC history. The American also has the most wins (21) in the UFC lightweight division. 

A Jiu-Jitsu black belt holder, Miller aims to prolong his career by competing against fighters more than a decade younger than him. 

The 39-year-old will aim for a return to winning ways after a defeat to Alexander Hernandez in February. 

Miller spoke about his intent to get a 36th career win in his comeback to the Octagon after four months during an exclusive interaction with  Sportstar

Q. In a long-standing career, you have accomplished almost everything that a fighter could wish for. At this stage of your career, what drives you to stay relevant?

A. Just the thrill of fighting. I enjoy training with my team, as well as being a student of the game and learning new things. Working out is incredible. I had trouble sitting still in school as a child, so when we had playtime and gym, I was always running around as fast as I could. So, being able to make a living doing what I enjoy has been fantastic. I’m stubborn and can’t let myself quit now. I just keep chugging along. 

Q. You’re fighting in UFC since 2008. It has been over 15 years. How do you feel about how this sport (MMA) changed over the years? 

A. It’s been amazing to see the growth. There was already a little bit of an explosion in 2008. I started training and fighting in 2005 and that was the first little peak. It has been 12 years since then, and the UFC has grown to become a global brand. I’ve had the opportunity to meet fans from all over the world, which has been incredible. I never expected someone to approach me and tell me they’re an admirer of mine, especially if you could tell English wasn’t their first language and they’re from Asia, Africa, or Europe. So it’s exciting to be a part of something that has a global impact. 

Q. You will be facing your countryman Jared Gordon instead of Ludovit Klein, who was way younger and inexperienced than Gordon. What are your initial thoughts about the matchup?

A. I‘m excited. Jared is a guy I’ve been keeping an eye on. I noticed him on the local circuit. He used to fight one or two of my training partners. I’m glad he also stepped up and took the fight on short notice when Ludovic had to withdraw. That makes me happy because it’s not always the easiest thing to do. But I enjoy the fight. I believe he is aggressive. I want to be able to put on a good show and fight guys who I know will bring something extra out of me, and I believe Jared is that type of guy. 

Q. Talking only about the skills and abilities inside the Octagon, what do you feel about the stylistical matchup against Gordon?

A. On the ground, I believe I have an advantage. He’s an excellent boxer and wrestler. He comes from a good Jiu-Jitsu lineage, but I’m going to have the advantage on the mat. It’s all about using all of my strikes while directing the pace. Landing effective strikes to create opportunities to take him down or to get into the scrambles and attempt to lock up a submission. I firmly believe that if I make it a Jim Miller fight against anyone on the planet, I’ll win, so that’s the goal for Saturday night. 

Q. In one of your previous interviews with  Sportstar, you mentioned that when you found that you had Lyme disease in 2016, it paved the way for you to come back instead of retiring then. How do you feel that has changed your life?

A. Lyme disease was not my choice, but it has become my path. In 2016, I was about to retire when I found out I was going to fight another opponent, and just understanding why I felt so bad was enough for me to get into that fight and give it my all just to get out of that phase. In 2018, I began to feel more normal, but I was still trying to figure out how to deal with the changes in my body. It took some time. But now I know how to train and what is needed to be the most dangerous inside the Octagon. 

Q. At 39, we would not see many fighters grinding their way through a combat sport. How long do you think you long extend your career and what are your goals in the near future, considering this is the twilight of your career?

A. It’s almost the end of my career. I love the sport of MMA. I enjoy training and competing. But there is a part of me that is ready to move on and focus on something else. I believe in another year or so, I’ll reach UFC 300, and my days at the pinnacle of MMA will be over. 

Watch the LIVE coverage of UFC Fight Night - Kara-France vs Albazi on Sony Sports Ten 2, Sony Sports Ten 3 (Hindi) & Sony Sports Ten 4 (Tamil & Telugu) channels at 6:30 am IST on 4th June 2023

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