SPARTA — Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter and Sparta native, Jim Miller is returning to the local area to take on former Strikeforce number one lightweight contender Pat Healy.
With a record of 22 wins, 4 losses and zero draws, Miller is ready to claim one more victory this weekend at the Prudential Center in Newark on Saturday, April 27.
Originally from Sparta and still living in Sussex County, Miller, 29, trains twice a day, five to six days a week at four to six hour sessions, out of Whippany and Fair Lawn with wrestling, Jiu Jitsu, live sparring and more to prepare for fights.
How did you get into UFC?Jim: I grew up wrestling in Sparta, went on to wrestle at Virginia Tech for a year. Then I was just working with construction with my father and brother. Dan [Miller's brother and also a UFC Fighter] and I were bored. We hadn’t been competing in a couple years, we missed the competition. So we had been watching the UFC events and stuff like that. We wanted to give martial arts a try and finally we made the commitment to join our first gym. And basically we were training six, seven days a week for the first year and a half. And everything just kind of steam rolled. We walked in the door and six months later we were stepping into a ring for our first fight. It all happened really quickly.
How was it to transition from wrestling to mixed martial arts?
Jim: For myself it was pretty easy, I found it. To compete, I was always a physical wrestler. I had two older brothers and was smaller than either one of them so I had been tossed around in the past (laughs), so it wasn’t too far from the norm of growing up.
It seems you do a little bit of everything when you train.
Jim: Yeah I don’t like the idea of being one dimensional in the sport, because it's really about finding the weaknesses of your opponents. So I am trying to do the best I can.
Have you ever been injured?Jim: I have been injured but luckily not too bad. I cross my fingers that I haven’t had to have surgery yet. (laughs). But it’s a physical sport and you get banged up and have to deal with it. Nobody every fights at 100 percent.
How do your family feel about your career?
Jim: Since we have been together, my wife has only missed one fight. My parents only missed two a piece. I am very lucky to have a supportive family. They definitely get nervous and it's not easy to watch when I am having a bad night. But they are there to support me and they know that it is what I love to do and I have been lucky enough to provide for my family. They are definitely behind me.
Would you say you are better than your brother, Dan?
Jim: No I wouldn’t. (laughs) Dan is a very technical fighter and bigger than me so that size definitely is an advantage. But I can catch him here and there and lay some chops on him but overall he can beat me up a little bit.
Are you doing anything to prepare for your fight against Pat Healy?
Jim: No not really. I try to train to my strengths and fight to my strengths. I am focused on getting better and on fight night, fighting my fight. I think it’s a mistake for guys to really focus on what their opponent does, what they are good at, what they are not good at... I am just really focused on myself really. Know what (Pat) does and know his tendencies but just try to be the sharpest fighter I can.
What’s the most difficult part in the UFC?
Jim: Just the daily grinder. You are always going to be bruised and sore. It’s tough to really go a whole training camp and not be banged up. Because you are training for a fist fight so you’ve got to do that, you’ve got to spar and do live work. If you surround yourself with good guys they are gonna lump you up every now and then. Dealing with that and getting through the training camp is the toughest thing. Fight night is fun. Fight night is why I do this for.
What is it like to get out there in the ring in front of all those people?
Jim: Definitely the octagon is just an experience. It’s hard to explain. It’s just a rush of energy and it’s a very intense feeling. It definitely can affect guys that haven’t done it before. It’s a rush, its definitely a rush. There is not many other things I can compare it to, you know maybe if you ride a roller coaster. You have that little bit of fear in you that you don’t know how things will turn out but you are excited to be there. It’s fun.
Any future goals?Jim: I haven’t really decided how many more fights I’ve got in me. I always told myself I would probably fight until I am 34. That’s a little over four years from now. It's ticking down but I don’t know, I will see how the body holds up and see if I can make it that far. Right now I am just trying to figure out what I am going to do afterwards whether it be opening a gym or anything like that.