UFC on FX 1 preview: Miller-Guillard

The Ultimate Fighting Championship has finally arrived on the FX network as lightweights Melvin Guillard and Jim Miller headline an exciting card from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn.

Prior to the four main card attractions, a stacked preliminary card will air live on Fuel TV.

Here’s a breakdown of everything in store on Friday night:

Main Bouts (on FX):

Melvin Guillard (29-9-2) vs. Jim Miller (20-3)

Headlining the UFC’s first event on the FX network is an intriguing three-round lightweight showdown featuring two top-ranked competitors on the rebound trail.

Guillard, 28, was on the verge of securing a title shot before suffering a major upset loss to Joe Lauzon at UFC 136 this past October in which he succumbed to a first-round submission after an aggressive start. Inconsistency has been a common theme throughout the career of the New Orleans native, who was seemingly making the right choices by partnering up with Greg Jackson’s camp in New Mexico.

However, Guillard recently relocated to Imperial Athletics in Florida alongside Rashad Evans and Anthony Johnson. The repercussions of the move remain to be seen, but the heavy-handed judo brown belt has shown glimpses of greatness in the Octagon.

Before being submitted by Lauzon, Guillard was riding a five-fight winning streak with career victories over Shane Roller, Evan Dunham, Jeremy Stephens, Gleison Tibau, Dennis Siver and Marcus Davis. Out of Guillard’s nine career setbacks, eight were by submission. Clearly, Guillard has a hole in his game, one that his opponent will undoubtedly be looking to exploit.

But Guillard’s brute strength, takedown defense, devastating knockout power and strong scrambling ability will make that task easier said than done. Guillard needs to be patient with his attack, maintaining some distance between his opponent and unleashing with thunderous flurries when he sees openings. If he’s able to anticipate Miller’s attempts to take him down, he will be in complete control.

Miller, 28, was nearing his own shot at the lightweight title as he carried an impressive seven-fight winning streak into his most recent bout. The fight did not bode well for the New Jersey native, who was outmuscled and controlled by former WEC lightweight champion Benson Henderson over three gruelling rounds.

A Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under Jamie Cruz, Miller possesses a strong base in wrestling and a dangerous submission game. The AMA Fight Club product has come a long way with his striking, but he would be well-advised to avoid testing out his improved hands against a knockout artist with Guillard’s one punch power.

Miller has competed at a high level since his debut in November 2005, earning quality wins over Bart Palaszewski, Matt Wiman, Mac Danzig, Duane Ludwig, Mark Bocek, Charles Oliveira, Kamal Shalorus and Tibau.

With the winner re-entering the mix of top contenders and the loser falling further down the ladder, this fight is incredibly important for both men.

Miller’s tough chin, durability and well-rounded game could be the difference makers as he takes advantage of Guillard’s visible deficiency, closing the distance and putting him on his back where he’ll tame the beast with a submission.

Verdict: Miller via submission, Round 1