“I think I immediately started cursing before I even picked up the phone,” Miller said on The Fighter vs. The Writer.
Shelby informed Miller that Gordon was pulled from the fight. He was offered the option to wait a few weeks to compete against Ludovit Klein, his original UFC Vegas 74 opponent before an injury, or he could take on a very late-notice replacement.
Miller opted for the latter, and it paid off after he demolished UFC newcomer Jesse Butler in just 23 seconds, which also earned him a $50,000 Performance of the Night award.
Despite everything working out for Miller, he was worried about accepting a fight with Gordon in the first place after watching the vet get knocked out by an accidental headbutt in late April.
According to Miller, he was informed that Gordon had told the UFC he was healthy and ready to compete, which momentarily addressed his concerns.
“Regardless of the fight [with Bobby Green] getting overturned to a no-contest, that doesn’t affect what happened inside the octagon that night,” Miller said. “So my worries were met with, ‘Hey, everything’s good to go, we asked, everything’s golden.’
“Because my options at that point were a couple different names thrown out there, or wait for Klein until mid-July. If Jared had fallen through, I was going to end up waiting another couple of weeks to fight.”
It wasn’t until he talked to the media during fight week that Gordon revealed he had a “minor concussion” from the fight with Green. But he added that he had gotten over the symptoms “fairly quickly and did everything I could to recover.”
“[Jared Gordon] should have told us that six weeks ago,” White said at the UFC Vegas 74 post-fight press conference. “He should have showed at least the company and your opponent some respect and at least did that six weeks ago.”
Miller understands from personal experience that a concussion may not have been diagnosed directly after Gordon’s fight with Green in April. But that doesn’t mean the symptoms couldn’t show up days or even weeks later.
At that point, Miller said, the responsibility and blame really falls on Gordon’s coaches and management for even allowing him to entertain taking another fight under those circumstances.
“Sometimes you go through the medicals after a fight and you get to the tent in the back, sometimes you’re not fully, really showing signs of a concussion or anything like that, or even injuries,” Miller explained. “This is actually a conversation I’ve had with doctors on quite a few occasions. You’re taking us when we are still high on adrenaline. We’re still heart pumping at a mile a minute. We are still in fight mode, and you’re asking us if things hurt, or this or that. It’s hard for us to fully assess what exactly is going on.
“From what I understand, he didn’t really feel like he had a concussion until a week or so later. Then [the responsibility] is kind of on him. Like maybe you should have vocalized that to people. Like I said, post-fight, I understand him doing it. I understand him taking the fight. It’s kind of reckless, but we get paid to step into a cage and beat the tar out of each other. I’m disappointed with his team.”
Miller knows as much as he’s built his reputation on a willingness to face anybody, anywhere, at any time throughout his UFC career. He still surrounds himself with people who care enough about him to ensure he never takes unnecessary risks, especially when it comes to his long-term health. That’s why he doesn’t put the blame Gordon as much as the people surrounding him.
“If one of my teammates, one of my guys was in that same situation, there’s absolutely no f****** way I let them take a fight under those circumstances,” Miller said. “Combining a massive weight cut with actively getting over a concussion, that’s not good. That’s not a good play.
“So for his coaches and his manager to just brush that off and [say], ‘OK we got this,’ I think it’s kind of reckless. You’re putting yourself in a really messed up situation. Like I said, to not have a couple of voices, that’s the part that stinks.”
For what it’s worth, Miller doesn’t hold any ill will toward Gordon, but the New Jersey native also acknowledges he should have never been allowed to take the fight in the first place.
“I wish there were people that talked him out of it,” Miller said. “Because this isn’t a good look now and he’s going to have to deal with that.
“We as fighters and teams, we need to look out for our guys. We need to look out for the guys who are super willing to risk it all. Somebody from his team should have been in his ear.”