Fantasy Fights

Intelligent, unique MMA analysis

UFC on Versus 5 Preview: Cole Miller vs. T.J. O’Brien

Why is Cole Miller fighting T.J. O’Brien on Sunday?

Because they’re both tall.

Seriously, that’s the reason. They fight at lightweight despite their respective heights: 6’1″ for Miller and 6’2″ for O’Brien. The UFC is constantly looking for the most even matches it can possibly find. That means that they love being able to put together fights in which both competitors have the same height, the same build, and the same skill set. Ultimately, the UFC wants fights to be decided on skill. Obviously, that’s not always the case: Stefan Struve is going to fight Pat Barry soon, after all. But that was after Struve fought three of the tallest UFC heavyweights in Sean McCorkle, Christian Morecraft, and Travis Browne.

So now, Cole Miller will fight T.J. O’Brien, and if you figured that fighters as lanky as these would have quite a bit of submission wins, you would be right. Miller has 17 wins, and 12 by submission. O’Brien has 16 wins, and every single one of them is by submission, including most by triangle choke.

With that having been said, I would love for this to be a ground battle between two guys constantly looking for quick, length-based submissions. I will expect a very mediocre striking match. The reason (and keep in mind that I don’t have any hard evidence to back this up) is that fighters generally build a game plan around the weaknesses of the opponent. Miller, at the very least, will probably look at the fight history of O’Brien and decide that the way to go is to strike against him. And while O’Brien has never won by TKO, Miller at least has three TKO wins on his record.

Miller also has the better fight history. Don’t get me wrong, Miller’s resume isn’t going to blow you away, but at least he’s a UFC veteran with wins against Ross Pearson, Dan Lauzon, and Jorge Gurgel. O’Brien’s best wins, on the other hand, are against opponents such as Dakota Cochrane and Josh Henry. On top of that, these are both TUF veterans, but Miller was more successful there also. While Miller advanced to the quarterfinals of the fifth season of The Ultimate Fighter, O’Brien didn’t even make it onto the show, losing in lightning-quick fashion by KO to Marc Stevens on the show’s twelfth season.


I think this is a bad style match for T.J. O’Brien. Both fighters are based in submissions, but O’Brien has no history of being able to win any other way, while Miller has at least shown some striking proficiency. Meanwhile, only O’Brien has actually lost by submission: Miller has zero submission losses on his record. Throw in the fact that O’Brien lacks any truly noteworthy wins, and every indicator in this fight points to a Miller victory.


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