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UFC 96 Gray Maynard vs. Jim Miller: Preview and Prediction

Gray Maynard vs. Jim Miller
6-0 Record 13-1
No 7. lightweight Rank No. 18 lightweight
1-0 (T)KO Record 1-0
0-0 Sub. Record 9-0
4-0 Dec. Record 3-1
W-6 Streak W-8
155 Weight 155
5-8 Height 5-8
29 Age 25
Xtreme Couture Camp AMA Fight Club

Gray Maynard will fight Jim Miller on Saturday night at UFC 96. The full preview is below.

What's at stake for Maynard: A chance to prove he's for real. When I put Maynard at No. 7 in my list of the Top 10 lightweights in MMA, I heard from some readers who thought that was way too high for a guy who was eliminated in the semifinals of The Ultimate Fighter Season 5, who only has six professional wins under his belt, and who wins his fights by decision, not by finishing his opponents. I believe Maynard is a very talented mixed martial artist, but a lot of fans need to be convinced. Beating Miller would go a long way toward convincing them.

What's at stake for Miller: This is the biggest fight of Miller's career and his first appearance on a pay-per-view card. If Miller wins, that sets him on course to have a major impact on the lightweight division: At 25 years old, he's just entering the prime years of his career as a fighter, and he has the potential to be a lightweight title contender down the road.

Why Maynard is favored: I attended Maynard's last fight, against Rich Clementi at UFC 90, and I asked a few of the other UFC fighters in attendance for their thoughts. I was amazed at how impressed they were by Maynard: The people in the know say Maynard's ability to keep opponents at bay on his feet and use his superior wrestling skills on the ground makes him incredibly difficult to beat. That style is sometimes decried by fans as boring, but for Maynard, it's also effective.

Why Miller could pull the upset
: In a word, submissions. Like Maynard, Miller has a wrestling background. But while Miller isn't as strong a wrestler as Maynard, he has a much more sophisticated Brazilian jiu jitsu game. Miller has submitted nine of his 14 opponents, and although he's the underdog in this fight, it wouldn't be a shock if he made Maynard his 10th submission victim.

Maynard Links:
Official site | UFC profile | Sherdog record | Wikipedia entry

Miller Links:
Official site | UFC profile | Sherdog record | Wikipedia entry

Prediction: Although Miller is dangerous on the ground, Maynard's superior wrestling should keep him out of trouble. Maynard by decision.