UFC 98 Fight Week Preview: Dan Miller Vs. Chael Sonnen
It's UFC 98 fight week and that means previewing a different bout every day here on Bleacher Report for UFC 98, headlined by Light Heavyweight champion Rashad Evans vs. Lyoto Machida. While not a sexy card that is heavy on buzz, there are still some intriguing bouts that will answer questions for how the rest of 2009 could play out.
Monday, it was Sean Sherk vs. Frank Edgar. Today, we look at Dan Miller vs. Chael Sonnen in the middleweight division.
About Dan Miller (11-1, 1 NC)
The near-four-year pro career of Dan Miller appropriately began with a submission and he hasn't stopped yet, as six of his 11 victories have come via tapout. After racking up a 7-1 mark in the independent promotions, Miller got his first taste of the bright lights May of 2008, in his one and only match with the International Fight League.
He made the most of it, defeating Ryan McGivern via (what else?) a first-round kneebar submission to win and become the organization's final Middleweight Champion.
The 27-year-old would be inked to a four-fight UFC deal a few months later and has won three in a row, two by first-round submission (Rob Kimmons and Jake Rosholt) and one by unanimous decision (Matt Horwich).
About Chael Sonnen (23-10-1)
An injury replacement for Yushin Okami, Sonnen is probably best known his bizarre pair of fights with then-WEC Middleweight Champion Paulo Filho. The first ended when the ref stopped the fight due to verbal stoppage, when he heard Sonnen yell "tap," but Sonnen claimed he never said he was going to give up. The two rematched, and Filho missed weight, causing the belt to not be up for grabs.
Filho then put on a bizarre performance that was roundly panned by critics—all while Sonnen tried his best to deal with an emotional and distracted mess. Sonnen won the match, but not the belt that he wanted to honor his late father.
The 32-year-old has been fighting pro since March 2002 in a variety of U.S. organizations and Pancrase in Japan. After a 1-2 run in the UFC (2005-2006), Sonnen put together a five-fight win streak in Bodog and SportFight before being inked to a WEC deal. After the two fights with Filho and a unanimous win over Bryan Baker, Sonnen moved to the UFC after the WEC ended its middleweight division.
Sonnen made his UFC return in February with a first-round submission loss to Demian Maia at UFC 95.
Miller has been nothing short of outstanding in his young career and hasn't shriveled in the spotlight of the UFC. There is no secret to what his game plan is: take someone down and make them tap in any manner possible. While an intriguing match with fellow submission master Maia could loom on the horizon, he will have a grizzled veteran across the cage from him Saturday night to deal with first.
Make no mistake, Sonnen needs to win this match in the worst way, a situation made tougher due to the short notice of the fight. Since coming back under the Zuffa umbrella, he has experienced the bizarre series with Filho and the elimination of a division. Clearly over-matched against Maia, he will need to be on his "A" game against Miller.
However, Sonnen does have seven KO/TKO wins to his credit, so Miller would be best served to be wary of an errant punch. We think he'll be up to the challenge though.
RRC Prediction: Miller via first-round submission
Josh Nason - josh [at] ropesringandcage [dot com] - has published MMA, wrestling and boxing blog Ropes, Ring and Cage.com since 2007. A writer for Fight Magazine, Nason joined up with Bleacher Report in 2008 and achieved Columnist status in 2009.