Fantasy Fights

Intelligent, unique MMA analysis

UFC 134 Preview: Dan Miller vs. Rousimar Palhares

I don’t know how Dan Miller does it. Somehow, Miller has been able to consistently find himself in fights against some of the very best middleweights in the world. This is not because Miller has beaten anybody particularly great: his best UFC wins are against Joe Doerksen and Jake Rosholt. It’s not because his fights are particularly exciting, either. I mean, Miller fights hard, but I can’t remember ever being completely thrilled by one of his fights.

What Miller has done is step in on short notice for the UFC, and this fight just continues that trend. Miller is a replacement for Alexandre Ferreira, a fighter who was cut from the UFC, essentially due to a total lack of work ethic. Now, Miller is more qualified for this fight than Ferreira is in my opinion, but regardless, that’s how Miller received this fight. But there’s a reason that my introduction mentioned Miller fighting very tough opponents, because Rousimar Palhares definitely qualifies as that type of opponent.

Palhares has one of the nastiest submission games in the sport of MMA. He’s particularly adept at leg submissions, as he’s earned no less than six wins by submission due to heel hook. At 5-2 in the UFC, Palhares has won three times by heel hook, once by armbar, and once by decision (against Jeremy Horn, a fighter with the kind of skill to know how to avoid being submitted that way). In the two losses, Palhares was also going for leglocks and heel hooks – he made numerous attempts against Dan Henderson at UFC 88, and was knocked out by Nate Marquardt shortly after complaining to the referee that Marquardt was able to slip out of his leglock attempt far too easily.

So, here’s a news flash: Rousimar Palhares will go for leglocks and heel hooks. But Dan Miller has hope to win this fight, because he’s a very well-versed submission fighter himself. In fact, Miller has eight wins by submission, and has never been submitted himself (or stopped in any way for that matter). With that said, it’s hard to see Miller coming close to submitting Palhares, so this fight may very well be determined by the striking and wrestling games. If Miller can keep the fight standing, he may have a chance to out-point Palhares.

It won’t be an easy task. Palhares is a very stocky, physically strong middleweight who will be more than a handful for Miller to deal with. And I’m more impressed with the fight history of Palhares than I am with the fight history of Miller. I’ll take Palhares’s wins over Dave Branch and Tomasz Drwal over any of Miller’s wins, except maybe Jake Rosholt.


UFC matchmaker Joe Silva clearly wanted to test Rousimar Palhares against a submission-based opponent in this fight. The original opponent, Alexandre Ferreira, is a fighter with 17 submission wins. The replacement, Dan Miller, is also a submission-based fighter, and if he can keep the fight standing, he might just have a chance. But I have to give the edge in the fight to Palhares, who in my opinion is a stronger wrestler with the better ground game.


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