Preparing for his fight against Jorge Gurgel at UFC 85 in July, Cole Miller has been busy. On top of his regular training sessions at American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida, which with teammates like Thiago Alves, Thiago Silva, and Marcus Aurelio can be anything but “regular”, Miller has been supplementing his personal training by participating in a half Ironman triathlon, which he completed on May 31st.
While millions of Americans were getting their first dose of MMA on live network TV, Cole Miller was busy trying to rehydrate himself after losing 10lbs. of water weight under the sizzling Georgia sun.
A 13.1 mile run, 1.2 miles of swimming, and 56 miles of cycling is what Miller endured and accomplished in only 8 hours to be branded a “half iron man.” While many would happily hang their hat on such a feat, Miller isn’t happy with being “half” of anything. He plans to compete in a full iron man triathlon next year, when he can dedicate more time to the ridiculously intense cardiovascular training that is required for such an undertaking. As if training with arguably the most insanely talented teammates in MMA wasn’t intense enough.
Many see iron man triathlons like these as bordering on masochistic, however; Cole Miller has a different outlook, “if I can pace myself over 8 hours and 70 miles, I shouldn’t be worried about gassing out during 3 5-minute rounds in the cage. Pushing myself to these extremes gives me a physical and mental advantage.”
Completing a triathlon may be an impressive accomplishment, but Jorge Gurgel would be quick to remind Miller that bicycles don’t punch you in the face, and that it’s easy to run when nobody is choking you. The two lightweight “Ultimate Fighter” alumni will clash in just under a week in a fight Miller says “will be all over the place.”
While Gurgel is coming off of a decision victory over John Halverson, Miller will be stepping into the octagon fresh off of a loss to Jeremy Stephens in a match where he was dominating until the end of the second round, when Stephens was able to land several unanswered punches and elbows, forcing referee Steve Mazzagatti to end the bout. “I just couldn’t get fired up for that fight, I was kind of lackadaisical, definitely a bad day at the office. In the Gurgel fight, I’m going to disregard the time, the judges, the takedowns, and everything. I’m going to get the scrapping in, fight my fight, and represent what my style is all about, and that’s technical grappling, and technical striking. I’m thinking we’re gonna go in there and fight for the full 15 minutes.”
Miller is a long and lean lightweight, standing 6’2” tall and having a 73” reach. He will have a clear size advantage over the 5’9” Gurgel, but is ready for Jorge to be willing to eat a few punches on the way to landing one of his own. Naturally, reach will be a major factor in the fight, and will make striking for Gurgel and his shorter limbs dangerous, possibly forcing the Ohio based Brazilian, and teammate of Rich Franklin to take the fight to the ground. Miller is ready for that as well. Against Stephens, Miller showed his grappling prowess by utilizing a heel hook, inverted reverse triangle, getting a half-guard sweep, and locking in a d’arce choke that nearly ended the fight in the Miller-dominated first round.
During his time on “TUF”, Miller had two exhibition fights. His first match took place in the very first episode of the season. In that bout, Miller out-struck and out-classed his opponent Alan Berube, on his way to winning a decisive first round triangle choke submission victory. In his second fight he met up with East Bridgewater, Massachusetts native Joe Lauzon, a computer nerd turned ass-kicker. The fight was a back and forth battle with Lauzon eventually getting the better of Miller in the second round, however, the fight was not without controversy. Before getting finished, Miller was pinned down by Lauzon and had a crushing illegal elbow delivered to the back of his head. The ref called for break and deducted one point from Lauzon. Miller, not wanting to give up, agreed to continue with the fight, although he later admitted to seeing spots. After the match, Lauzon apologized and Miller agreed the elbow was inadvertent. When asked if he would like to have a rematch with Joe, Miller says, “Not really, I wouldn’t mind another fight with Lauzon, but I’m not really trying to call him out right now. Really, I just want a rematch with Jeremy Stephens. I don’t really think that I gave him my best, and I’d really like to at least give that to him. I know I can beat that guy.”
As a native of the peach state of Georgia, Miller expressed his desire to fight on the freshly announced UFC 88 card, which will be taking place at the Phillips Arena in Atlanta on September 6th, headlined by the second attempt of a Chuck Liddell/Rashad Evans main event. “I would die to fight in Georgia in front of my hometown fans, I’d be shits and giggles right there. If I could fight on that card I would be ecstatic. If I just kick Jorge hard enough I could break my foot, so it’s cutting it pretty close. If I can get out of this fight with no cuts, no sprains, no broken bones, than I’d kill for the chance to fight in Atlanta and rematch Jeremy Stephens. He also has a match coming up soon against Spencer Fisher, so I don’t know what the likelihood is that the fight will happen, but I’d really like to fight that guy again so I can give him my best.”
Before he gets his rematch with Stephens, or the opportunity to fight in front of his hometown fans, Miller knows he must first get through the challenge that is Jorge Gurgel. On July 5, Miller has the chance to do just that, and solidify himself not just as a reality television athlete, but as an ultimate fighting ironman.