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Exclusive: Cole Miller in a Rush to Win Again at UFC 108


(Photo courtesy of UFC.com)

By Elias Cepeda for CagePotato

Losing is always miserable, but in a combat sport like MMA, getting beaten is no figure of speech. If you lose, you hurt; physically and badly. The risk and danger involved in MMA competition helps make it more exciting than other sports, but behind every highlight-reel knockout and submission is ugly and unfortunate pain — at least for the guy laid out.

Over four years as a pro and nearly twenty fights Cole Miller (15-4) had never been the guy on his back, unconscious after a fight. But there he was being revived and staring up at the lights last September after being dropped by Efrain Escudero.

The hardest part for Miller was not losing in and of itself, or the headache he had to deal with for a bit afterwards. He says it came down to having so much seemingly productive work and sacrifice be rebuffed so abruptly.

“Knowing that I trained that hard, sacrificed a lot in my personal life for the 10-12 weeks in camp all for three and a half minutes and it didn’t go my way. That was disheartening to say the least. Being able to let it go. Accepting that that kind of thing happens and happened for the first time and that it could happen again. Knowing that I’m just a man, you know? These were the hardest parts of dealing with that loss,” Miller says.


From the moment Miller got back to his feet after getting stopped by Escudero, he’s had one goal — getting back in the cage and laying it all on the line again as soon as possible. Miller got in touch with his UFC bosses and began asking what openings there could be for him to fill on upcoming cards.

Miller got his wish and is now booked to fight the ultra-talented Dan Lauzon (12-2) — who three years ago became the youngest fighter to ever fight in the UFC — this Saturday at UFC 108. To observers the decision to fight again so soon may not seem like the healthiest one for Miller; he had a three-month training camp the last time out and now will be fighting just three months after a concussive bout. But the 25-year-old believes fighting frequently is crucial to him succeeding.

“I don’t want to blame the result on any one thing one thing but it has been frustrating to me that I haven’t had the ability to get any kind of momentum going,” Miller explains.

“Every time it seems like I’m getting something started it comes to a halt. I won the [Jorge] Gurgel fight (a dramatic last second submission win over the black belt veteran in 2008) and then I was sidelined with a knee surgery afterwards and had a nine-month layoff. Then I fought Junie [Browning] and had less than two minutes in the ring with him. Then after not even getting hit that whole fight I had to wait five more months or so before I could fight Efrain. So basically when I fought Efrain it had been over a year since I’d had more than five minutes of combined ring time. I like to fight a lot.”

And when someone who has more fights, including amateur and kickboxing contests, than years lived as Miller does says that, fans can believe it. Losing again doesn’t scare Miller either. Many fighters like Miller balance an attitude of invincibility with the type of desperate work in the gym borne out of understanding their chances of losing. Escudero may have been the first guy to actually put Miller out cold, but he had run that type of scenario through his own head many times before.

“I try to think about everything happening in a fight,” Miller admits. “Winning, losing, getting knocked out, getting submitted — I want to think about all these options, be realistic, and acknowledge that all these things can happen so that way I’m not afraid to take risks once I do fight. Once I’m in there I’ve already accepted that these things can happen so I shouldn’t fight with hesitance or conservatively. It’s not my job to win fights; it’s just my job to fight.”

And Miller knows that as confident as he was the last time around, he can still improve a lot. According to him, Miller’s biggest mistake against Escudero was a mental one.

“I had fought in front of big crowds before so it shouldn’t have been an issue but I listened to them too much. I was controlling the action by moving forward and pressuring him but I started to hear some boos so I started to get more aggressive, which wasn’t the gameplan but it is my natural fighting style,” Miller says.

Though Dan Lauzon, younger brother of fellow UFC lightweight Joe, has been out of the organization for some time now, Miller knows he can’t afford any similar lapses against his next opponent. Miller is characteristically confident, even cocky while assessing the bout, but believes Lauzon is a dangerous man.

“It’s the same story as always for me in that I believe I’m the technically better fighter in every aspect, except maybe in wrestling. In the clinch, on the floor and on the feet, I think I’m the more technical fighter. But his strength is his strength and my biggest weakness is my weakness. He’s big at about 5’11 and a bit heavier than me. He’s a good fighter and no joke with eight wins in a row. Maybe most of those wins haven’t come against that great of competition but I feel that’s an advantage for him because he’s been able to take some new things he’s learning in training and make them work so that now they are in his arsenal and he can pull them off in fights. He’s an aggressive fighter and not afraid to take risks, which I can appreciate. It should make for an exciting fight as long as he fights the way he always has,” Miller believes.

If there’s an edge to Miller’s blunt breakdown of his matchup with Lauzon, it might be because with a fight on January 2nd, he’s spent the holidays away from the friends and family found in his native Georgia, training hard at American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida. The Lauzons have their own gym in their home state of Massachusetts and typically conduct their camps there. Always breaking down every advantage and liability, searching for added motivation and running through fight situations in his head, Miller touches on one final possible thing he has going for him in his comeback bout.

“I hope he [was] sitting around at Christmas time. I hope he’s chilling because you’d better believe I was in the gym on Christmas day. I know he doesn’t go away for his training camps. Good, stay at home. I hope he enjoys those little things you take for granted during the holidays. I’m not going to see my friends or family. Christmas and every other day I wake up, go do my conditioning in the morning and then my sparring at night.”

Cagepotato Comments

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Redmoose- December 30, 2009 at 12:22 am
Brock Leznar!!!!
itsgalf- December 29, 2009 at 11:08 am
Good story, bro
Organ Donor- December 29, 2009 at 10:37 am
I didn't read the article or any of the comments. That said, I think you should all lay it on the line and emulate my writing style, I said.
Disco-Platypus- December 29, 2009 at 10:32 am
also @ Macready

Sick James Joyce reference, by the way.
Disco-Platypus- December 29, 2009 at 10:29 am
@ Art Gibs

If my commentary was directed toward the general CP audience - which it was obviously not - than your point would be made very well! However, it was made to a professional colleague, in a professional style, and therefore the tone was entirely appropriate. As macready grasped, it was an instance of professional guidance and assistance for Elias, and thereby, whether or not the general audience such as clutchy feels it appropriate is highly secondary. I addressed Elias precisely in the way he ought to be addressed: intellectually, constructively, and thoughtfully. In other words, my commentary was for Elias only, and therefore written in a way he can and should understand.

My commentary would have been largely ineffective, and in reality, entirely useless had I made terse and derisive remarks - in my field, such commentary is seen as insulting.

@ macready

I completely agree: my writing would have been exponentially more concise, direct and effective had I received lengthy and thoughtful commentary at every turn. For a writer, the worst possible advice is short advice.
Da Spied Her- December 29, 2009 at 9:40 am
Why wasn't there a funny caption for the picture? Damn, this article sucks!
Dyph- December 29, 2009 at 9:37 am
@ Art Gibs

If that was at all in reference to me I was 'blessed' with a journalist for a mother, so chalk it up to general over-exposure and ass-whippings when she checked my homework. :D
macreadysshack- December 29, 2009 at 9:33 am
Did anybody read that trainwreck of an article comparing (aw, who was it . . . who cares?) a fighter's journey through MMA to the Illiad?

Jesus TF Christ. Talk about not speaking to the audience!

Hey, Elias, maybe you should do one about Kos being The Portrait of the Martial Artist as a Young Man. Just kidding . . . Respect, Mofo.
macreadysshack- December 29, 2009 at 9:29 am
@ Art We are the snobbiest of the snobby!!! Not only to we purport to know more about the hardcore MMA scene than anybody else, we're also the best motherfucking writers on God's green Earth. Believe it, bitches.

macreadysshack- December 29, 2009 at 9:26 am
Also, good article, Elias. Very nice and by the numbers. There are a shit ton of people who can't even do that - read ANYTHING NOT by Thomas Gerbasi on the UFC site and you'll see what I mean. I'll be looking for more in the future . . .
Art Gibs- December 29, 2009 at 9:25 am
I hate to sound self congratulatory here, but does CP have the smartest readers of all the MMA blogs? Or maybe we're just the snobbiest?
Elias- December 29, 2009 at 9:23 am
@ Whitey lol
macreadysshack- December 29, 2009 at 9:21 am
@Disco-Platypus

Damn, man. Nice. I was noticing your style choices in addressing Elias and you really nailed it. You treated him like a professional colleague. Haha, it doesn't lend itself to the CP audience but it wasn't meant for them - clutchy hopkins, I am looking at you (your point is valid but you are mistaken that Disco's comment was meant for you - at all. It's fine that you wouldn't read it. It doesn't mean that 'noone' will, though.)

I consider myself to be an above-average writer. I'm even quite good at times. I wrote for a local MMA newspaper and I think I found my voice quite successfully. Still, I wish I'd had that guidance at the time because, though I'd known all that through a combination of intuition and study, I think it would've been helpful to paste that comment next to my computer and read it once in awhile.
whitey- December 29, 2009 at 9:18 am
goddamn its getting intellectual in here!
whitey- December 29, 2009 at 9:17 am
@ discoplatypus and dyph

pardon me, do you have any grey poupon?
Art Gibs- December 29, 2009 at 9:15 am
DP,

Based on what you've written here, you're hardly someone who should be teaching others about appropriate tone. But your suggestion to leave out "Miller says" is a good one, as is your advice regarding cliches. In any case, the article gave me what I was looking for: a little entertainment and information.
Disco-Platypus- December 29, 2009 at 9:12 am
@ Clutchy Hopkins,

Sorry, but I don't read comments from the Irish. But, I will'y try to write shorter comments, lad.

At any rate, it is professional courtesy.
Dyph- December 29, 2009 at 9:12 am
@clutchy hopkins

Don't go speaking for everyone now. I personally enjoyed reading Disco's wall of text more than the article itself, by which I don't mean to say the article was bad, but I had the same feelings while reading it as with the other article Elias wrote for CP.

Quality opinions expressed in decent manner don't stop before the comments section. If you expect anyone to regard your asinine remarks with any validity perhaps you should keep your nose out of constructive intellectual conversations. Or at the very least contribute to the conversation rather than just letting your fingers spew stupid all over our monitors.


@Elias

Definitely looking forward to more articles and hopefully more constructive remarks will follow.


@Disco

As i said before, I harbor the same feelings when reading this, perhaps to a lesser degree but great job nonetheless.
Elias- December 29, 2009 at 8:58 am
DP, man I appreciate the professional and editorial guidance but I simply don't have the time to read that much writing at once...
just kidding, brother:) Thanks for reading and God bless!
clutchy hopkins- December 29, 2009 at 8:49 am
well disco platypus, if i may offer a suggestion or two, don'y write such long fucking comments because noone will ever read them, including the two guys that write the shit
GetUpAndKill- December 29, 2009 at 8:48 am
^Truth

Great article though. Unfortunately, I find myself in the zero attention span audience. I would rather listen to a radio show or watch a vid this long.
Disco-Platypus- December 29, 2009 at 8:44 am
Elias, if I may proffer a suggestion or two regarding your writing style:

Stylistic conventions should always be relative to the topic and audience, and in the case of your articles, you are largely unsuccessful in this regard. In this particular instance, I feel as if I am reading either: a) an article about a high-school athlete in a local newspaper, or; b) an article regarding a professional athlete scribed by a contract writer for a local paper. Your work is thus riven through-and-through with talent on one hand, and tired and clichéd style choices on the other. Obviously, neither of these "conventional" sports writing styles are appropriate for the content (mixed martial arts, and its culture) or the audience (not only cagepotato readers, but the 18-35 male demographic who will read this article period). Now, I am not suggesting here to adopt Ben and Ben's style wholesale, and simply present cut-and-ready-to-dry articles for our consumption, but merely that your style is inappropriate for the content and audience.

In an attempt to tease out the fighter's emotional and psychological state, and thereby provide some context to the "fight game," your writing comes off as forcefully emotive and nostalgic - quite ironically preventing the honest portrayal that you are ostensibly attempting to capture. While I both understand and agree with your intentions, the manner in which you attempt to realize these intentions may be perceived as pedestrian - well, at least in the context of sports writing - and therefore makes the story less plausible.

I would personally eliminate the "Miller says," "Miller believes," after long-winded quotes, and abandon the overly-descriptive setups. Clichés about "combat sports" and "laying it on the line" are superfluous, as we know and love the sport, brother! Remember: audience and content. Sports writing is at its most effective when the tone is reminiscent of the way the intended audience think and speak - and in this case, nobody on this site thinks and/or speaks like local sportswriters, nor like the soliloquies on sitcoms whereby a main character recants some "important event" on the show.

At any rate, all writers need time, space and opportunity to flesh out and appropriate writing styles which provide believable templates for the content. You quite obviously possess some talent, so I am sure you will eventually find as much.

Elias- December 29, 2009 at 8:10 am
haha, thanks MFWC:)
We've got some stuff with Joe Lauzon and Jens Pulver coming down the pipe soon as well so keep your eyes peeled please!
MyFightWiffaCheeto- December 29, 2009 at 7:43 am
Now don't you all go complaining you had to actually read all at once.

Good Article Elias. Good to get exposure for some of the younger, hungry, up-and-coming type fighters. WAR ATT!
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