TUF 15 winner Michael Chiesa sought a signature win on Thursday night at UFC Fight Night 80.
A submission victory over one of the sport's jiu-jitsu aces fits the bill.
A bloodied Chiesa used a rear-naked choke to finish respected veteran Jim Miller in the co-feature bout at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, getting the tap at 2:57 of round two.
"All I've got to say is I'm in the top 15, I'm not taking any backwards steps," said Chiesa, who won for the fourth time in his past five fights. "At the end of 2016 I'll be a top-five fighter and you'll be talking about me in the title [picture]."
Chiesa outworked Miller over the first half of the first round. But Miller got Chiesa's back midway through the round, worked his way into a bodylock, and nearly got into position to choke Chiesa out.
Chiesa managed to survive, then he turned it on in the second round. Miller was game until the end, attempting a desperation leg lock, but Chiesa (13-2) rolled out, got mount, and soon thereafter got the winning choke.
"Jim's a tough guy, I got into the a bad spot in round one and I just knew I had to shake it off," Chiesa said. "I'm not afraid to grapple with anyone in the lightweight division. I'm not afraid to stand and trade."
Miller (25-7, 1 NC) has dropped three of his past four fights.