On Saturday night, Jim Miller will tie Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone for the most appearances in UFC history as he sets foot in the octagon for the 35th time.
During his 12 year career with the promotion, the New Jersey native has been considered a potential lightweight title contender, a constant threat to anybody in the top 15 rankings and one of the fighters who embodies the old school mentality where he’s willing to face anyone, anywhere, at any time.
In fact just before former matchmaker Joe Silva left the UFC following sale of the company in 2016, he offered Miller a fight. It took him a matter of seconds to reply with a simple two word answer — “I’m in” and Silva’s response was equally emphatic.
“Of course you are. You’re Jim f**king Miller.”
At 36, Miller still answers the call with that same kind of fervor and that’s probably why he’s planning on sticking around long after his fight on Saturday night is finished.
“I still love it,” Miller said when speaking to MMA Fighting. “I still enjoy it. I can’t train like I used to. It’s just not going to happen. So it’s just a matter of being smarter and being better about it. Even just having a date, just having that timeframe, I love getting in there.
“There’s nothing I’ve felt that compares to fighting. Even on the bad nights. Even on the nights when you’re just not there or you just don’t feel it. You sign on that dotted line, you’ve got to make that walk and you’re still there. It’s still crazy. It’s this thing. I haven’t found anything to compare it to. I still love fighting.”
While Miller and Cerrone will stand together atop the all-time fights record, the list of athletes who have been a part of the roster for over a decade isn’t that much longer.
It might not be uncommon for a fight career to go past 10 or 15 years but rarely does anyone spend that much time in the top organization in the sport. Miller definitely appreciates that his name sits alongside fighters such as Diego Sanchez, Joe Lauzon and Frankie Edgar when it comes to tenure in the UFC.
“It’s cool to be associated with those other guys,” Miller said. “I’ve got a ton of respect for them. It hasn’t always been easy. It definitely hasn’t. I’m one of a handful that has over 30 fights [in the UFC] and one of a few that has over 20 wins.
“It’s a group of guys that I’ll always remember and the fans will always remember. Being associated with those guys is awesome.”
When his career does come to an end, Miller will almost assuredly join the UFC Hall of Fame but those kinds of accolades don’t matter to him nearly as much as the admiration he receives from other fighters.
Even his upcoming opponent Roosevelt Roberts touted that he watched Miller when he was just a fan of the sport and long before he considered a future in the UFC.
Much like Silva’s words to him in that parting email, Miller will remember that more than any trophy or plaque he’s handed years from now.
“The feather in my cap it’s not those things, being tied with [Donald] Cerrone after this one for the most fights. That doesn’t matter to me,” Miller explained. “What matters to me is the respect of my peers.
“It’s not going to get written down anywhere. There’s no way to put it into something. There’s no way to really document it but the respect that I’ve got not only from the guys that I’ve fought but from other guys, that’s definitely one of the things that helps me keep going and doing what I’m doing. And knowing that doing what I’m doing is a good thing.”
Now this might sound like Miller is starting the countdown towards his final run in the UFC but that couldn’t be further from the truth. He absolutely plans to make it to at least 40 fights in the octagon and ideally he’d be the only fighter to compete at UFC 100, UFC 200 and UFC 300.
“I don’t know if I can make that far,” Miller said with a smile. “It would be pretty cool fight on 100, 200 and 300.”
To make it to UFC 300, he would probably have to stick around at least four more years but there’s no reason to doubt him.
He is Jim f**king Miller after all.