For Jim Miller, home has been where the hurt is.
A proud New Jersey native, Miller has been a regular whenever the UFC swings by his home state; unfortunately for him, these bookings have also seen him regularly tasting defeat in front of his friends and family.
Miller’s last five fights at home have seen him lose to Dan Hooker, Beneil Dariush, Donald Cerrone, Pat Healy (later overturned to a no contest when Healy tested positive for marijuana), and Nate Diaz. He hasn’t won in New Jersey since finishing Kamal Shalorus with strikes back in March 2011.
So ahead of Saturday’s fight in Newark, one has to ask: Is there such a thing as a “Jersey Curse?”
“No, you know what, I’m not superstitious,” Miller told MMA Fighting. “It’s just one of those things, I can look at those fights and be like one, I’m fighting tough competition; and two, okay well, this is something that happened, this is why it happened, I’ve picked [the results] apart…
“It’s not because I’m in Jersey. It’s because I got kicked in the f*cking face. You get kicked in the face anywhere it’s going to put a hurting on you, so it’s just the way it goes. We don’t worry about it. I assumed somebody’s going to bring it up, but whatever.”
Miller admitted that while there are obvious advantages to getting a home date, there’s a downside as well. Namely the fact that being able to prepare with relative convenience doesn’t get him fired up in the same way that competing outside of his comfort zone does.
“Fight week when it’s in Jersey, it’s nice because I don’t have to fly anywhere, but at the same time sometimes that travel it kind of like, gets you set into fight week,” Miller said. “There’s something about being away from home that it’s not always a bad thing. For me, sometimes when I fight locally here, it feels weird.
“It feels like it’s not quite fight week until the hard work starts Thursday night. But it’s been going well and I’m feeling good, so can’t complain.”
If there’s anyone who can speak to how the minute differences from fight week to fight week can affect an athlete, it’s Miller. He’s competed 32 times for the UFC across four countries and he’ll extend his record number of Octagon appearances when he faces Clay Guida in Saturday’s UFC on ESPN 5 co-main event at Prudential Center.
Miller is also one victory away from joining Georges St-Pierre, Michael Bisping, Demian Maia, and Cerrone as the only fighters to reach 20 UFC wins, 18 of which have come at 155 pounds, another record that Miller holds. Combined with Miller’s reputation as a company man, he has a solid case to someday be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame, an accolade that Guida himself recently earned for his classic June 2009 fight with Diego Sanchez.
“I think it will happen,” Miller said when asked if he thought about receiving the Hall of Fame call. “At this point, I think it will. I don’t want to jinx myself, but you would think with some of the stats I’ve got that it would happen and that’s a nice thing to have.
“Go on and get a sponsor like that like, ‘Oh yeah, UFC Hall of Famer.’ (laughs) It’s definitely a cool thing and again, that’s another group of fighters, it would be cool to be associated with them.”