Jordan Miller’s career resurgence hitting its stride with Cage Warriors 75 matchup

Jordan Miller’s career resurgence hitting its stride with Cage Warriors 75 matchup

A passionate Jordan Miller talks about his early career, and the upcoming bout with Chris Fishgold at Cage Warriors 75.

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Jordan Miller in action at AON. Image by Jenna-Leigh Photography
Jordan Miller in action at AON. Image by Jenna-Leigh Photography

Jordan Miller’s Sherdog stats are listed as 11-14, his Tapology page says 14-14. Cage Warriors are expected to note his record as 15-14. The 14 losses grab your attention. You could be excused for looking at this fight as an easy win for Chris Fishgold, but don’t be fooled by the numbers.  Miller was a promising young talent in UKMMA a decade ago.  A quick glance at his record shows that he has been willing to fight the best opponents available.

For Miller, fighting provided an escape from the issues he had to deal with at home.

“I think I was 10 or 11, my mum was always a little clumsy, we had a joke that she could trip over an invisible line. And then she got diagnosed with MS (multiple sclerosis). It can be anything from someone having a numb feeling to someone being bed bound. The type she had meant that she was going to go downhill, and go downhill pretty quick. I have been doing martial arts my whole life, and when I was supposed to be concentrating on college, going to university and training, I was looking after my mum.

“There was a real flaw in the system, they had health insurance, but MS wasn’t actually covered at that time. It was re-categorised a couple of months later, but they said we would get nothing because we had already made the claim a  few months earlier. And that really crippled the family financially.

MS is a chronic condition which is known to progressively inhibit the normal functioning of a person’s nerves in the spine and brain, causing a wide range of ailments. Though some symptoms can now be treated and many cases differ in severity, it can be crippling.

“I spent most of my time looking after her. I would go to college, where I was doing my A-Levels (biology, maths, physics, chemistry and environmental science). I’ve always enjoyed science, I wanted to go and study veterinarian medicine at university. I would literally ride to college, have a 2-hour session, and then ride home during the short break, because I knew she would have fallen or needed help to do basic things, and I had to do that a couple of times a day.

“She eventually got some carers, they would come to the house 3 times a day for 30 minutes, she got more care later on. I didn’t get the grades I needed to go and study veterinarian medicine. The course needs As and A*s, but I was scraping by with Bs, Cs and Ds, I just couldn’t give it the attention I needed to.

“Every 6 months we would get told by the doctor that she was going downhill and that she only had 6 months to live. I could have gone to university in that time, but when you’re being told that your mum only has 6 months to live, you put everything on hold. And that kept happening every 6 months, and that lasted for years.”

He saw MMA as a way to escape from his life; 15 minutes that he could spend in the cage without having to worry about his problems. 15 minutes to distract himself. People on the outside didn’t know about the issues at home. He struggled to find people who would look after him and wanted the best for him, but it was easy to find people who could make money off him.

“Early on in my career I was fighting at Wembley Arena on the old Cage Rage shows, I was fighting guys like Brad Pickett and Ronnie Mann.  I was one of those guys that had a lot of potential, but I didn’t have a good team around me, they were happy to just take the money.”

“I didn’t have a support network for what was going on at home. My dad did what he could, but he also struggled, I think his brother got diagnosed with terminal cancer around the same time my mum got diagnosed with MS, he tried his best.”

“And people don’t see this stuff. They just saw this kid who looked alright and who would put a bit of effort in, but wouldn’t last. A lot of time has passed since then, we’ve kind of come to terms with it. I’m now at the stage mentally where I should have been a few years ago. I’ve never managed to find a team that had my best interest at heart, so I just did my own thing, people weren’t training how I wanted to train, so I set up my own team. Things just started getting better from there.

“It is a weird feeling I have. Whenever you go into fights you wonder what is going to happen. When you go into the cage and have someone beat you because your mind is elsewhere, and then you have to go home and act like you’re fine, and where any of your behaviour can reflect on your parent who is lying there dying. Now I go into a fight and I think ‘what is the worst that can happen?’. Nothing that can happen can compare to what I have been through.”

Welcoming Miller to Cage Warriors is Chris Fishgold (12-1-1). The Next Generation MMA fighter recently defeated Alejandro Ferreira at ICE FC 11, and is expected to challenge  Andrew Fisher at ICE FC 14 for the ICE FC lightweight belt. A few more wins on his resume and Fishgold should end up in the UFC, but Miller has plans to put a halt to that train. Fishgold is 3-0 in Cage Warriors, and is known for pushing the pace of fights and non-stop attacking style, and Miller believes his experience and ability will be able to counter what Fishgold brings to the fights.

Miller and Fishgold square off. Image by Dolly Clew

“I think this is what makes it an interesting fight. I think Chris saw my initial interview and took it as a sign of disrespect, but he shouldn’t at all, it was no reflection on him. I genuinely do like his style, and he is a really nice guy. I told Ian Dean that I wanted to fight the toughest fighter he could get, and he (Fishgold) is the one who is in front of me. I want to test myself.

“I just think that he is an example of someone who has had the correct training and the right people around him. And I know we all have different circumstances, and we shouldn’t compare hardships, but I’m at the stage now where there is nothing anyone can throw at me that is worse than what I’ve been through, especially in a fight.

“I think a lot of his fights are him putting pressure on people and them folding, he can do the same to me but he will get pressure back. I think that is what will make this an intriguing fight.

“It doesn’t matter what Chris Fishgold is going to throw at me, he is going to have to finish me if he wants to win the fight, I have fought with broken hands and broken feet.”

“I think this is the biggest fight in my career,” he told YourMMA.  “Because it is at the stage where people are really taking notice. And it is very big for Cage Warriors, they’ve been around since back in the day, I think all eyes are on Cage Warriors because this is their return.”

Miller also sees the very recently confirmed deal between Cage Warriors and the UFC as a good thing for fighters. The promotion’s events will be aired live on UFC Fight Pass, and not only does that make it easier to be spotted by the UFC, it also gives fighters a chance to improve their sponsorship deals.

“The more people that watch, the better it is for us. I can approach a sponsor and say I can advertise their brand to a demographic they want to reach. I can say to a sponsor that 500 people are going to see it, they’ll give me £50 for a logo on my shorts.  If I say 2000 people will be there, that turns into £200. If I say that the event is on Fight Pass, and that thousands of more people will watch, they throw even more money. I think too many fighters think that winning fights is enough, you have to be marketable and intelligent. Being  on Fight Pass is great for fighters.”

Cage Warriors have been recognised as a promotion that put on fair and entertaining matches. Ian Dean, the matchmaker at Cage Warriors, decided to match a 15-14 (or 11-14 depending on which site you reference) fighter against a fighter who is expected to move onto the UFC sooner rather than later. It does look like a routine victory on paper to casual fans, but Dean has been on the scene long enough to understand that a focused Jordan Miller can trouble any fighter he faces. Miller is thankful that he has been given this opportunity, especially as it could make look Cage Warriors look silly if he lost to a lucky strike.

“Ian Dean was apprehensive at first, understandably, and I appreciate the chance he has given me. If I go out and smash Fishgold in a minute, people will be impressed, maybe they will say I was lucky. If Chris does that to me, people will ask why I was matched against him. Look at The Aldo-McGregor fight, he was always aiming for that punch, but it could have happened 13 seconds from the start of the fight or 13 seconds at the end of the fight. This fight with Fishgold, if he wins a competitive fight with 10 seconds left, people will be impressed by the fight and applaud Ian Dean. If he throws a punch and it knocks me out 10 seconds into the fight, but it is a lucky punch, we’ve all seen it happen, people would question why they put me against Fishgold.”

The lightweight’s record is confusing to everybody, including himself. He has tried his best to get his record corrected, but 2 of the biggest go-to sites have different records for him, and neither are correct.  His professional career started over a decade ago, many people who could help him correct his record are no longer involved in the industry, and many simply didn’t care about updating his records.

“There were a lot of different databases that kept records, it was all over the place. I’ve seen the evolution of the sport. I had over 80 competitive fights in my career, obviously not all in MMA, and they don’t include inter-club fights. My listed record is incorrect. I’ve been trying to get it sorted, but when you approach a company like Sherdog, they need the result, how it finished, the date, event info and the complete fight card. And in some cases I have been asked for information about who the referee and judges were. That is fine for recent shows, but going back 5 to 10 years is nearly impossible. I’ve done what I can to correct it, Tapology is the closest, but even that isn’t correct. I even sent Sherdog a video of a fight that they don’t have on my record, that video is on Youtube, but they just won’t accept it.

“There is no commission or governing body in place that can keep track of fights.  If you’re a promoter who does one show, and stops because you lost 10 or 15 grand on a show, you’re not going to give a damn about updating records.

“I think I’m missing 5 to 10 wins that should be on my record. It would be nice if some of the losses didn’t get recorded!”

Miller accepts that people will have a glance at his record and not show him the respect that he deserves. He isn’t known for hiding from difficult fights. Although he now regrets taking many of those fights, they did provide him with that escapism that he desired during some of the most difficult moments a person can face.

“It always comes back to your record. People say nobody cares, but everybody cares. They want people with a perfect record because they are easy to market. I have 14 losses on my record, but they came from a time when I was in a really bad place. People don’t see that. I shouldn’t have taken those fights, but the other option for me was to sit at home with your disabled mum, who was literally being kept alive by tubes, she couldn’t speak, and she was like that for years.”

Miller is understandably frustrated that his professional record isn’t correct, but for him, he only thinks about the fights that happened for the right reasons. He doesn’t want to think about the fights that provided a route to escape the issues around his mum’s health, he judges himself on how he has performed since he started taking his career seriously.

“ I count [my record] from my last 6 fights, that is when my mind-set got correct, but to me, in my own head, I see 6-0 right now.

“I could never find the right way to motivate myself before, I did it to get away from the stuff in my life. Now, I just fight for me. I just see me and my opponent. My mum is dead, she isn’t with us anymore. I have 10 years of making up to do. I’ve spent most of my life looking after people, now it is time for me.“

The 28-year-old’s journey began after he started watching a Hollywood blockbuster. He fell in love with martial arts, he wanted to learn everything that he could, but he has his own unique way of learning, which led to him becoming disenfranchised with traditional martial arts. The extra travel and training also provided another way for him to not think about what his mother was going through.

“Right at the start I was training in a normal Japanese Ju Jitsu club, I started training because of something I saw in The Matrix. I tried the karate route but I was bored. I then went and trained under Andy Walker, I had a few fights under him.  Looking back, I should have been handled differently, I should have been looked after better.  I jumped to a few different teams, but I don’t feel they had my best interest at heart.

“I ended up just learning from different martial arts classes I attended. I would go to a Thai Boxing class and was surprised that they threw knees, so I picked that up.  I would never be put off by someone kicking the hell out of me, I would wonder how they were doing it, and then I’d copy them. I went to a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class thinking it was a Japanese Ju Jitsu class, they tied me up in knots on the ground, I thought it was all the same before I went to that class, so I started figuring that out. I did the same with sambo, I had never heard of it before I went to the class. I was desperate to just learn new stuff.

“I was originally disheartened by most traditional martial arts because they would have that old mentality where you have to master something before they even try and teach you something else, it was like they hold something back, like they didn’t want to teach you everything.

“It was that escapism. Going to new places gave me the ability to not focus on things at home.”

He found some success at his next gym,  but that relationship with his new head coach didn’t work out. Miller decided that the only person who could really help him learn, especially in the way that he wanted, was himself. He has of course added members to his coaching team.  He believes that his uniqueness is also going to help him in his upcoming bout against Chris Fishgold.

“I ended up training at Phoenix MMA, about 4 years ago, with Jimmy Johnstone, It felt like I had found my team for a while, but it wasn’t how I wanted to train or do things. I just ended up starting my own team. Our win ratio is brilliant, I never put guys into easy fights, I want them to learn.

“Going back to Chris, I think that is where it is going to different for him, I have my own unique way of doing things. They say the hardest lessons are the ones that you keep with you. Every lesson I have had and learned from in MMA has come through the hard route.”

A fighter who loses 8 successive fights, over a period of 5 years (2006-2011), might think about calling it a day, but for Miller, he was still using the sport to escape from his day-to-day life. There was only ever one instance when he really thought about quitting, and that was after being submitted by Tim Radcliffe at Fusion Fighting Championship in May 2013.

“I thought about quitting, but it was brief, because I didn’t really care if I lost. But then I started getting my stuff together, the fight against Tim Radcliffe hurt me. I dropped him a few times in that fight, I thought he was out every time, but he kept getting up. He kept coming back like a zombie.

“I had the worst adrenaline dump in the second round. I was exhausted. He hooked in this tight rear naked choke, my corner weren’t offering any help, I thought it was quite early in the round, but it was much closer to the end of the round than I had thought. I wouldn’t have given up so easily if I had known that.

“I felt like hanging up my gloves after that fight, but I didn’t. I had that same response after some of the other losses I had after, but those thoughts were like a baby throwing his dummy out of his pram.”

Out of the 14 losses on his record, he only mentions one that he really wants to avenge as soon as possible. The last loss of that 8-fight losing streak came against Brendan Loughnane at UFA 1 in October 2011. He stresses that he doesn’t want to take anything away from Loughnane’s performance, he respects him and has enjoyed watching him develop, but he wants a second fight.

“I have a title fight lined up after this Cage Warriors fight, it is on Adrenaline Fight Night. After that I would like to fight Brendan again. I was told that he was a stand-up fighter, turned out that he had been wrestling for years. I took that fight, I think it was 10 days after my mum died. I just didn’t train properly ahead of the fight. I was like a turtle on my back in the first two rounds, I was his punchbag. I found my feet in the 3rd round.

“I don’t want to make excuses or take anything away from him, but that was another example of me escaping from what happening in my life. It made me understand why people self-harm, you have to be really strong for the people around you, but that little cut you make is a release. I think I probably gave him the best fight he had, at least up until the TUF Finale fight. I would like to chase that fight, but I need to beat Chris first.”

Miller is a fighter who isn’t afraid to share his thoughts or feelings. If you ask him a question, he will give you an intelligent and passionate answer. He says that he does get “pissed off” when he sees fighters who provide generic answers to interviews before and after fights, something that he feels comes down to them being scared of the negative feedback they would get.

“I hate that the fact that you get brilliant fighters, but they are too modest. It is as if they are worried that people are going to be offended, they hold themselves back because they don’t want to be labelled as smacktalkers. If someone asked me for my thoughts on a fight, I would tell them this, this and this. I would say my stand up would be better, my wrestling is better, I would rip their foot off if I had to.

“It is a fight. Say what you think is going to happen. Say what you want, to whoever you want, if they say they are going to beat you up, cool, we’re in the fight game. I don’t say things to antagonise people or instigate a fight, I just give honest answers when I am asked questions. And I don’t take offence if my opponent says those things about me. There is a difference between having an opinion and making a malicious attack on someone. There is a fine line between the two.”

Miller gets his chance to shine on an enormous stage tonight, live on Premier Sports and UFC Fight Pass, amongst many others. He has a big name opponent and an even bigger stage. He believes now is the time to make the most of it, and go out to give an impressive performance while eyes are on him.

“The sport is breaking out, and it is getting mainstream. Cage Warriors and Bamma are getting that exposure. People aren’t seeing knuckledraggers anymore, they are seeing athletes. And I think that exposure can help the sport and help the fighters.”

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