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Dan Miller: At Home at Welterweight

Cutting weight is never easy. Dieting down 15 pounds while training full-time as a professional fighter with one‘s home gym next door to the Original Pancake House is probably Hell. That was the calorie-pinching task set in front of Dan Miller for his welterweight debut last June. The svelte, 170-pound Miller was successful in not only making the cut, but he earned a hard fought Submission of the Night victory via third round guillotine choke. It‘s a new weight class, but it‘s the same granite chin and the same fight-ending chokes UFC fans have come to expect from him.  “I know there are a lot of good fighters at 170 pounds, but I faced a lot of good fighters at 185 pounds,” states Miller. “I think mentally I could hang with some of the best at 185 pounds. There are still going to be tough fights at 170 pounds, but I’m pretty sure I can hang with every single one of them.”The Pine Plaza on route 10 in Whippany, New Jersey unassumingly holds two hidden gems in its strip mall: one of the best MMA gyms in AMA Fight Club and, arguably, the best bacon this writer has ever eaten at the Original Pancake House. While one is busy deliciously fattening up America, the other is creating lean and mean fighting machines like the 14-6, 1 NC Dan Miller and his younger brother, UFC lightweight Jim. After a 5-5 record as an undersized middleweight inside the Octagon, with the losses only coming by way of decision, Miller‘s negative attitude about dropping divisions finally changed after being physically outmatched by the incredibly muscular Rousimar Palhares at UFC 134. “The guy is just a beast,” remembers Miller. “It was hard for me to compete in that fight because I physically couldn’t keep up with him. Mentally and far as talent goes, I think I matched him well. Physically, there was one time when I shot in to take him down and he, literally, just took me with one hand and threw me against the cage. I fell back and he just jumped on top of me and was pounding my head. It was just one of those things where I was like I either need to get a lot stronger or I need to cut. I think it was a pretty clear path that it was time for me to move. It was probably a little late. I probably should’ve made the move earlier in my career, but I was stubborn. I wanted to avenge those losses and I feel like I was in pretty much every single one of those fights.”At UFC on FX in Atlantic City, there didn‘t appear to be an ounce of ring rust on Miller following a 10 month layoff when battling Brazilian “Golden Boy” Ricardo Funch. “When I was walking in, it felt like it was yesterday, it felt like there was no time off,” tells Miller, who took the fight to the Team Link prospect for two full rounds before dropping Funch in the third with punches and capitalizing with a submission. The guillotine finisher has become Miller‘s trademark with his nearly decapitating, highlight reel standing guillotine on Dave Phillips in the IFL as well as his lightning fast 63 second choke of Jake Rosholt and his power guillotine, aka “ninja choke,” of John Salter at UFC 118. “If you’re going to put your head there, then I’m going to try and choke you,” affirms Miller. “He kept putting his head down, so I kept reaching for it. It really wasn’t until the third round because I kept trying to do a standing guillotine. I kept trying to wrap him up, and Jim actually yelled at me in between rounds to stop going for a standing guillotine and to commit to it, commit to the guillotine because I had it. A couple times, I had it under the neck and if I had committed to it earlier maybe I would have been able to finish him earlier, you never know. I had it under his chin and Jim yelled at me in between rounds and when I locked it up in the third he said, ‘Commit to it!’ And I did in the third. I jumped into the guillotine and I finished him.”The 31-year-old Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt has put his grappling skills to good use, with nine of his 14 wins via submission finish. With a background in wrestling at Sparta High School, Miller and his brother began training BJJ in June 2005 with their eyes set on fighting professionally, which they started doing six months later. Brothers who learn armbars together get black belts together, and the Millers got theirs under Jamie Cruz, who is a black belt under Renzo Gracie; specifically, Dan received his in January 2010. Recently, the Millers have continued their ground training inside the Gracie tree of black belts with Brian McLaughlin of Precision MMA, a black belt under Rob Kahn who is UFC Hall of Famer Royce Gracie‘s first black belt. “I wasn’t a standout wrestler,” says Miller. “I was a good local Jersey wrestler. I was a district champ. I took second in regionals, but I never made it to states, so I was ok. I probably had better wrestling than most guys at the time when I started training, but now we have a lot of Division I wrestlers we’re training with and I can’t eve…

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