UFC 134 Rio Preview Part Two: Dan Miller vs. Rousimar Palhares

I know I criticize the UFC for the way they structure their hierarchy of matches but here is a case of them getting it very right. Originally it was to be Rousimar Palhares (12-3) taking on fellow Brazilian Alexandre Ferreira but fate intervened and Dan Miller (13-5) did what he does best, namely enter a card as a late injury replacement. That addition brought with it a higher profile and now this fight has been bumped up to the Spike TV portion of the card. As for the fight itself it seemingly pairs two middleweights who have strong records and tons of potential and gives them a chance to finally break through to the upper echelon of the division.

Palhares enters a comfortable favorite at +200 and he hopes to use some of his world renowned submission to stay in the win column. Things are never not dramatic around Palhares, however, and bettors should be aware that there is always the possibility that he will just give the fight away a la the Nate Marquardt debacle. Since then Palhares has only fought once and that was a victory over Dave Branch that looked to be on the easy side for him. The question he and people looking to bet on him should probably be focused on this week is how is he going to handle the wrestling chops of Miller which while not outstanding are used effectively to control the action inside the cage. Both guys will look for submissions though Palhares is clearly the superior in that department so I fully expect Miller to try and counteract that through wrist control and lay and pray.

Miller has always been anxious to cash a UFC paycheck and since he does it in a manner that usually bails the promotion out they are hardly going to be looking to cut the guy. That said his win loss record as of late has been less than spectacular. Of course he has been put through the middleweight gauntlet and it has resulted in losses to Nate Marquardt, Michael Bisping, Chael Sonnen, and Demian Maia. His wins have been equally slanted in the opposite direction and that is what I like most about this bit of matchmaking; it should give us our clearest picture yet of where exactly Dan Miller stands.

One has to assume that he will enter the cage with a bit of chip on his shoulder and something to prove after his brother Jim, top tiered lightweight contender, got mauled by Ben Henderson a few weeks back ending his short term title aspirations. I am of the mind though that it will not be enough and feel confident in selecting Palhares to take the victory here. We are all too familiar now with the shenanigans that have come to define his career but at 31 he needs to push hard towards the top now, not later, and certainly he and his team are aware of it. Home court advantage will also play a major role as this will be the first time he will compete in front of his countrymen in nearly four years. With both guys looking to execute a ground game I expect few, if any, fireworks though the grappling gamesmanship that could ensue, assuming Miller brings his A game, could be fascinating.

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