On the surface, Cole Miller's unanimous decision win over Andy Ogle at UFC Fight Night 30 was a lifesaver. That's because had things gone the other way, and had Ogle gutted out a victory, it would've marked the fourth time in five UFC bouts that Miller fell short -- at least, officially.
"I knew I had to win," Miller said on Monday's episode of The MMA Hour. "I've kind of been up and down, but I've only been up and down because of what some 50 and 60-year-old judges have said about my fights. If you actually went back and looked at them, as far as I'm concerned, this is four wins in a row."
At face value, it's easy to dismiss Miller's complaints as simple excuses of another disgruntled fighter. But take a closer look at his UFC Fight Night 26 loss against Manny Gamburyan, and Miller actually has a pretty legitimate point.
Forget the fact that Miller outstruck the Armenian and battered Gamburyan from bottom position for three rounds. The real controversy came at the end of the opening frame, when Miller essentially knocked out Gamburyan with a pair of seemingly legal elbow strikes against the cage.
Gamburyan slumped over in Miller's corner holding the back of his head, while Gamburyan's cornermen rushed across the cage to aid their fighter. In the end over two minutes passed before Gamburyan answered the bell for the second round, despite the fact that only one minute is permitted by the commission.
"I thought I won that (fight against Gamburyan) and so did the media. So did everybody, in fact; Dana White, Lorenzo Fertitta, everybody came back and told me what was up," Miller said. "I read all the play-by-plays from the media. They all said that I won the fight and that I won every round of the fight, so as far as I'm concerned, I had momentum going into this fight.
"These [officials] want to say that I ‘lost,' but I'm the one doing all the damage."
Miller ultimately appealed the Gamburyan loss to the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission and is currently awaiting notice of the outcome. Although Miller does take away a sense of grim satisfaction by the fact that several of the points he brought up are being addressed in the commission's next meeting.
Nonetheless, the obvious error by commission officials, which was even admonished by UFC President Dana White, coupled with what Miller found to be a frustrating scoring criteria -- one skewed towards takedowns and top position instead of activity and damage -- led Miller to his belief that the system in place is beyond broken.
"They're not even qualified to be making the calls they're making," Miller said of MMA judges. "That's kind of disgusting and that's really unfortunate in our sport, because it changes the whole landscape of our sport. When you have unqualified people judging mixed martial arts, it changes the way that mixed martial arts is actually fought, because fighters are now adjusting their styles to please people that don't know anything about our sport.
"Then coaches are training their fighters to please these people that don't know anything about our sport. Right? And people want to think, ‘Oh, he's just bitching. He's just complaining because he hasn't won these fights in a while.' Look, you can keep all these decisions. I'm a martial artist, and I walk out with my head held high. I fight my kind of fight.
"I love this sport," Miller continued. "I really do. And I want to see it make progress. I don't want to see it regress. With the judging in mixed martial arts, and how coaches are coaching the fighters, and how fighters are manipulating and molding their styles to please people that know nothing about MMA, it makes the sport regress. That's really unfortunate, and that's something that I've been seeing for a long time, and it really makes me sad."
It's true, though, that despite however legitimate Miller's gripes may be, the fact remains that he desperately needed to increase his stock at UFC Fight Night 30. And he did just that, not only impressing in victory, but also by playing the promotional game so many fighters, for some reason, avoid.
Instead of answering Joe Rogan's post-fight questions, Miller launched into a tirade against the slew of European fighters that dot his résumé, eventually calling out the UFC's Irish sensation, Conor McGregor.
It was the most unexpected of promos, drawing a rancorous response from the Manchester crowd, and it even caught the attention of McGregor, who wasted little time responding to Miller via Twitter.
"[McGregor] came out and he called everybody else out. Two of those people he called out are my teammates, Nik Lentz and Dustin ‘The Diamond' Poirier. And that offends me," Miller said.
"People are talking about how great he looked. You didn't finish a 21-year-old kid with eight MMA fights. And now people are talking about you get to fight for the belt, and fighting top-10? And you're going to call out two people that train on my team, that are my homies? Na, you don't get to skip all that after not finishing a 21-year-old kid with eight MMA bouts, and then just skip and get to fight Dustin Poirier and Nik Lentz, and talk crap on these guys. Because those guys will murder you."
While Miller was quick to point out that he'd rather stay busy and fight before the end of the year than wait for McGregor to heal from knee injury, the 15-fight UFC veteran made it clear that he'd be ready whenever McGregor was able to return.
"Clearly I think that he's a good fighter," Miller concluded. "But do I think that he deserves to get flown here and there, and get to just skip to the front of the line? No, not at all. I think he needs to be tested.
"I don't know if he's overrated. That's the problem. But I don't think that he gets, after two fights -- [not] even two finishes in the UFC -- to just jump to the front of the line and fight these top name guys. You need to be tested, and be tested by a real seasoned fighter."