Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight veterans Jim Miller and Francisco Trinaldo will face off this Saturday (Oct. 28, 2017) at UFC Fight Night 119 inside Ginasio do Ibirapuera in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Miller has pretty soundly settled into the role of gatekeeper to the Top 15. He rebounded nicely from his recent slide, but it still wasn’t enough for him to break into those rankings, as he’s coming off two fun-but-clear defeats to top talent. He may not be part of that class anymore, but Miller still has fight left in him. As for “Massaranduba,” he rounded out his game and solved some conditioning issues, which resulted in an impressive seven-fight win streak. He faltered opposite recent title challenger Kevin Lee, and now Trinaldo will look to return to the win column.

Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for each man:

Jim Miller
Record: 28-10 (1)
Key Wins: Joe Lauzon (UFC on FOX 21, UFC 155), Thiago Alves (UFC 205), Danny Castillo (UFC Fight Night 45), Yancy Medeiros (UFC 172)
Key Losses: Dustin Poirier (UFC 206), Diego Sanchez (UFC 196), Anthony Pettis (UFC 213), Beneil Dariush (UFC on FOX 15), Donald Cerrone (UFC Fight Night 45)
Keys to Victory: Miller is something of a Jack of all trades. He’s a dangerous Southpaw kickboxer, but the division’s best can out-strike him. At the same time, taking down his foe and strangling him is a classic Miller strategy, but he’s also been controlled to a loss more than once.

Luckily, Miller has as much of heart as anyone in the division, which has helped him hang around so long.

Like in so many other 155-pound contests, this features two Lightweights skilled in all areas set to duke it out. On the whole, both men tend to favor their original backgrounds though: Miller was a wrestler first, while Trinaldo competed in kickboxing. With that in mind, the key to this fight for Miller is timing a takedown. Trinaldo is the more physical fighter, but he also has a habit of over-committing. If Miller can duck under a wide left hand and score a takedown, it’ll force Trinaldo to waste energy. Plus, jiu-jitsu is perhaps Miller’s clearest advantage, as the New Jersey-native does have 13 wins via tapout.

VS.

Francisco Trinaldo
Record: 21-5
Key Wins: Paul Felder (UFC Fight Night 95), Ross Pearson (UFC Fight Night 81), Chad Laprise (UFC Fight Night 74), Norman Parke (UFC Fight Night 67)
Key Losses: Kevin Lee (UFC Fight Night 106), Michael Chiesa (UFC 173)
Keys to Victory: A Brazilian kickboxing champion, Trinaldo entered UFC as something of a wild power puncher with a limited gas tank. Since then, he’s settled down and shown his technique on the feet — while still being quite physically imposing — and that’s helped solve his conditioning and takedown defense issues.

Outside of the occasional takedown, Trinaldo has won pretty much all of his recent fights the same way. He’s a technical striker on the outside and unafraid of exchanges in close, which makes the plus-sized Lightweight a really tough challenge on the feet.

In this match up, much of Trinaldo’s advantage comes from physicality. He’s the heavier puncher and more durable athlete of the two men. He’s also strong enough to defend most takedowns and possibly score his own simply via size. In short, Trinaldo needs to be imposing. His best strategy involves kicking Miller hard from the outside and then throwing heat whenever Miller moves close, as absorbing any decent amount of the Brazilian’s shots will cause his opponent to hesitate a bit.

Bottom Line: Trinaldo was briefly ranked with the Top 15, and he’s looking to climb back up.

As mentioned, Miller is firmly in place as a gatekeeper. Unless he goes on a sudden and massive win streak or falls apart as a fighter, he’s pretty much going to remain gatekeeper to the Top 15. If he wins, it shows that Trinaldo simply isn’t on that level. If he loses, Trinaldo is still among the best, but Miller’s position doesn’t really change despite the three-fight losing streak.

A deep division like Lightweight needs guys like Miller to help sort things out.

Meanwhile, it’s a pretty important bout for Trinaldo, who suffered his first loss in a couple years. A win gets him back in the mix, not necessarily Top 15 but deserving of a ranked foe. Alternatively, his second straight loss shoots him way to the end of the line, which is bad news for the 39-year-old athlete.

At UFC Fight Night 119, Jim Miller and Francisco Trinaldo will battle. Which fighter will take a step up the Lightweight ladder?