Jim Miller was thought by some to be a fading force in the Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight division. Perhaps talk of his demise was a little premature.
Miller -- a +120 underdog, according to BetDSI.com -- wound up on the right side of a split decision in his UFC on Fox 21 rematch with Joe Lauzon (-143) on Saturday at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia. All three cageside judges struck 29-28 scorecards: David Therien and Tony Weeks gave Miller the nod, while Dave Hagen sided with Lauzon.
A former Ring of Combat and Cage Fury Fighting Championships titleholder, Miller staggered his counterpart with a stabbing left in the first round and targeted the body and head with punches, knees and occasional kicks. Round two followed a similar narrative, until Lauzon drove into top position after in ill-advised spinning attack from the New Jersey native and cut loose with some ground-and-pound. “The Ultimate Fighter 5” semifinalist had Miller on the ground twice in the third round, as he achieved full mount and sat back on a last-second armbar. His efforts, however, came up short.
Miller was not the only underdog to leave the cage with his hand raised. Demian Maia (+103) shined in his main event with onetime World Extreme Cagefighting champion Carlos Condit, as he tapped the “Natural Born Killer” with a rear-naked choke. Condit (-126) bowed out 1:52 into round one, suffering his first submission defeat in more than a decade.
Further down the card, the unbeaten Felipe Silva (+140) made a strong first impression in his UFC debut, as he took out World Series of Fighting veteran Shane Campbell with first-round punches. Campbell (-167) succumbed to blows 73 seconds into round one, a vicious left hook to the liver doing the lion’s share of damage. The 32-year-old Silva has finished seven of his eight opponents inside one round.