The UFC's Dan Miller has hit a rough patch recently, inside and outside the Octagon. Miller, who has faced some of the toughest opposition outside of Champion Anderson Silva in the middleweight division, is on a two-fight losing streak, as well as struggling to pay the bills for his son's debilitating illness.
Now feeling confident enough to leave his young son Danny's side, Miller will be back in the Octagon at UFC on FX: Maynard vs. Guida on June 22nd to face Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt Ricardo Funch in his welterweight debut.
Miller, the brother of UFC lightweight Jim Miller, has never been a very large middleweight, which made the drop to 170 lbs. seem like the logical thing to do after facing much larger opponents like Rousimar Palhares and Nate Marquardt.
"Halfway through the Palhares fight… I tried to stand back up and he just threw me down like a child. I thought, 'Well, I guess I'm not standing up at this point.' It had been in the back of my head for a long time.
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"I never had to lose a lot of weight for middleweight; it was kind of an easy thing. But fighting some of these guys, I technically might have been close to them, but physically, it wasn't a fair fight. At this level you need every advantage that you can get. So I thought, 'Let's get serious. Let's do this.'"
Now on a strict diet, Miller received the support of his coaches and family to get back to serious training, despite his son's condition.
"I'm eating healthy and trying to make a turn, trying to be more professional – training hard and keeping focus. The weight is coming off pretty good. I'm pretty close to my goal. There are still some big, strong kids [at 170], so I don't think it is going to be a huge advantage for me. I just think that now I'll be one of the bigger guys in the division instead of being the small guy. I'm looking forward to it… Once Danny was able to return home, it got a lot easier to train. I'm enjoying it again."
As for Miller's thought on his first opponent at 170, Miller said, "I know he's an aggressive, good all around fighter. He's a black belt in jiu-jitsu. I've got to be on top of my game. It's going to be a tough fight. I'm looking forward to it. It is kind of a rebirth for me. I'm going to go in there, take it to him and show that I deserve to be in the UFC."
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N.B. The Miller family has started a foundation to help raise money to pay for Danny's medical expenses. For more information, visit the Daniel James Miller Foundation website.
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