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For Jim Miller, self-satisfaction is everything, even when it means not winning

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Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

In the wake of UFC 168, there was uproar among the online-active mixed martial arts fanbase. Sure, Ronda Rousey scored her patented armbar on Miesha Tate in their title fight co-main event, but so what? UFC lightweight Jim Miller scored a first-round armbar (not in the third, like Rousey) over Fabricio Camoes, a far more decorated jiu-jitsu competitor.

If we're evaluating skill and the level of accomplishment, the online sentiment went, what Miller did far outpaces Rousey's legitimate if overvalued finish of her foe.

For his part, Miller won't say whether he deserved the bonus or not. He claims he, nor anyone, knows the criteria, so what's there ultimately to fret over?

"You know what, my checks didn't bounce," said Miller at Wednesday's Ultimate Media Day for UFC 172 in Baltimore, Maryland. "I was contracted to make my show money and I won, so I got my win money. That's the only thing that was in writing. The Performance of the Night bonuses are a gift from Dana [White] and Lorenzo [Fertitta].

"I was pretty satisfied with it," Miller said of the fight-ending submission. "It was a completely clean armbar against one of the highest-ranked black belts that's ever stepped into the Octagon, and he was fresh. He wasn't hurt, he wasn't sweaty. So, it was a good sub. $75,000 would've been nice for me, but like I said, it's a gift and it wasn't mine that night."

The key question, however, is this: does Miller tailor his fighting style to make it more likely he'll end up with a bonus when Bruce Buffer is announcing the results? After all, he's won six post-fight bonuses during his UFC tenure, three of them Submission of the Night awards.

Perhaps he competes in a more reckless way to gain visibility in a mixed martial arts landscape that puts an increasingly emphasis on entertainment over skill and even results.

Miller is emphatic that's not the case. For starters, he insists he doesn't know the criteria for winning bonuses ("you never know if it's going to happen and performances the powers that be are going to think are the best because there is no criteria"), but it wouldn't matter even if he did. The AMA Fight Club lightweight is adamant that what compels him is a sense of how to and not compete, what his own fights should look like and what he believes is his call to action once inside the Octagon.

"From day one, I fight to satisfy myself. With the contracts, I get paid twice as much if I win than if I lose. So, obviously winning is number one, but I'm not satisfied with the judges having to come into play.

"You've never seen me get excited it," Miller claimed. "You've probably never seen me smile after winning a decision and you never will because that's not what I am there to do. I'm there to dominate my opponents, make them quit and finish them."

What's noteworthy about Miller's statement is not the candor with which he underscores how appealing his style might be to fans or UFC brass, but how much he will stick with it even when it fails it.

"Sometimes that style of fighting has cost me, but it's still who I am and that's the way I'm going to fight. I know there are fights I could've won if I fought a little more conservatively.

"I think the Benson [Henderson] fight," Miller said, citing an example. "I put him in six legitimate subs and was not there that night. If I had fought to control him a bit more, I think I could've done so. The fight with Nate [Diaz], I ended up hurting myself about two minutes into it, was a little rocked going into the corner after the first round. I knew I probably should stay away. It's a five-round fight. I could've taken a couple of minutes, backed away and used my movement, but if that door's closed behind me, I'm going forward and I'm trying to fight the way I always try to fight. If I recovered, maybe it would've turned out differently. Maybe not."

With that in mind, Miller has to face last-minute change Yancy Medeiros on Saturday as original opponent Bobby Green pulled out due to injury. The New Jersey-native calls Medeiros a 'scrappy fighter', one he doesn't 'want to just stand in front of'. But Miller isn't overly technical with his pre-fight prognostication. That isn't to say he abandons strategy and accepts chaos and spectacle for visibility.

Rather, he knows what he's good at it and how he needs to fight in order for him to be proud of the way he competed and honor the instincts that come natural to him.

It's not that he isn't aware of the argument that more elite fighters tend toward self-preservation when necessary. It's simply that it doesn't compel him to change.

"I just go in to satisfy myself and if I'm satisfied, 95 percent of the fans are going to be satisfied," Miller said, without offering a prediction for how Saturday's fight will end.

"The only ones who aren't going to be satisfied are going to be the friends and family of my opponent."