Miller expecting fun fight with Lauzon

LAS VEGAS -- It's been a long 2012 for Jim Miller, who lost to Nate Diaz in May and was resolved to the idea that he would have to wait to fight again until 2013.

But as has been the case all year with the UFC, one man's misfortune becomes another man's opportunity. Gray Maynard, who was expected to fight Joe Lauzon at UFC 155, had to drop out with a knee injury. Enter Miller, who'd been in a holding pattern since Cinco de Mayo.

That's a long time to contemplate tapping for the first time in a seven-year career to a guillotine choke.

Must have been a difficult seven months, right?

"For me it's actually pretty easy," Miller told ESPN.com. "I know what I'm capable of. I know that I could have beat either of those guys that beat me on that night had things gone my way. I've had to deal with other things in the past that were out of my control, and you gain a sense of maturity with that, and I know when that door closes it's just me and my opponent. A lot can go right, and a lot can go wrong. I'm just looking to fight to my abilities."

It's not like Miller's recent skid was against slouches, either. He lost a title eliminator to eventual champion Benson Henderson while suffering from a kidney infection and mononucleosis. That decision snapped a seven-fight winning streak. His loss to Diaz in a big headlining spot stung, but sandwiched in between was a submission victory over Melvin Guillard.

In other words, a fairly normal stretch by any other fighter's standards is a novel experience for Miller. Losing isn't something he's used to (his only other losses in seven years are to Frankie Edgar and Maynard). And then again, neither is waiting around.

Maybe that's why Miller says he's "fired up and giddy" heading into Saturday's bout with Lauzon. Being giddy is something you don't loosely associate with a blue-collar grinder like New Jersey's Miller. But the prospect of facing Lauzon, who takes home more end-of-the-night bonus money than everybody not named Anderson Silva, is a fun temptation.

"[Lauzon's] a very aggressive fighter, and he comes forward," Miller said. "He's obviously very dangerous with his strikes, and he hits hard. So [for me] it's just fight clean, and not give him those opportunities to do what he excels at. I'm good in the scrambles myself. It's kind of just not getting going too much where he might pull out and advantage, but do what I am good at doing, and just take the fight to him. He's very aggressive, and he's always attacking. I try to do the same things when the fight hits the mat."

As for Lauzon's ability to capitalize on mistakes?

"It's different than most guys because most guys have that little voice that says 'I might end up in a bad spot.' But [Lauzon] really doesn't care about that, because he's going to string another sub off of it," Miller said. "So it's difficult, and you've got to be careful, and if you're worried about a triangle the next thing you know you're in an armbar type of deal, and also every time you attack you leave yourself open for counters and passes and that kind of stuff. I just got to be sharp, let it all go and have some fun in there."

The "fun" Miller's forecasting extends to his coach, Mike Constantino, who can't help noticing the similarities in the styles.

"Lauzon likes to set things up with speed and accuracy from the scramble -- but I constantly instill the guys with scramble ability, and winning the scramble. And as you know with Jim's fights, he's a scrambler-based, too," Constantino said. "I just think this thing's going to be like a dust-up -- like a cartoon -- all over the cage.

"I agree with what Joe has been saying, that the first one to make a mistake will obviously lose, but somebody might graze somebody with a strike to set up the submission and that could be the difference in the fight."

So a frenetically paced fight that will be contested on virtual eggshells, with the first one to make a mistake losing? For a competitor like Miller, the opportunity was too good to pass up, and giddiness comes with the territory.