Jim Miller is fighting in his backyard; Nate Diaz is fighting for a shot at championship gold. When Miller and Diaz lock horns in the UFC on Fox 3 main event on Saturday at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, N.J., neither man will lack for motivation.
Both competitors have also put together impressive career resumes. Miller’s only three losses in 24 professional fights have come to arguably the top three talents in the lightweight division: Frankie Edgar, Gray Maynard and Benson Henderson. Meanwhile, after bouncing back and forth between 155 and 170 pounds, Diaz seems to have found a home at lightweight. In his last outing, the Stockton, Calif., native befuddled Top 10 lightweight Donald Cerrone with his volume-punching style to earn a unanimous decision victory at UFC 141.
It has not been easy for players in Sherdog.com’s MMA Pick’Em fantasy game to decide between the two fighters. As of Friday, voting between the two was deadlocked at 50 percent apiece; most oddsmakers have Miller listed as a slight favorite.
In the co-main event, 58 percent of users like rising star Johny Hendricks to continue his recent roll and vanquish Josh Koscheck in a welterweight clash. The 28-year-old Team Takedown representative has been defeated only once in 13 professional bouts. Most recently, he shocked Jon Fitch with a 12-second knockout at UFC 141.
Koscheck has won two straight bouts since falling to Georges St. Pierre in a 170-pound title tilt in 2010. “The Ultimate Fighter 1” alum scored a first-round knockout of Matt Hughes at UFC 135 and followed that with a hard-fought split-decision triumph against Mike Pierce in February. “Kos” recently split from his longtime fight team, the American Kickboxing Academy.
Other Sherdog Pick’Em trends for the UFC on Fox 3 main card:
• A solid 77 percent of participants have chosen Rousimar Palhares to defeat Alan Belcher in a middleweight affair. Best known for his heel hook submissions, “Toquinho” has only lost to Dan Henderson and Nate Marquardt in nine Octagon appearances. Belcher returned to action for the first time in more than a year in September, finishing Jason MacDonald in the first frame with punches.
• The vast majority of players (70 percent) favor Pat Barry in his heavyweight showdown with Lavar Johnson. Barry ended a two-fight skid by knocking out Christian Morecraft in January. After a five-fight stint with Strikeforce, Johnson became the first person to finish Joey Beltran with strikes at the UFC on Fox 2.