Thursday, March 29, 2007

MMA is a Natural Fit for TUF 5 Participant Cole Miller

By John Buhl

Most mixed martial artists that establish themselves as top prospects or contenders in a short period excel at a particular discipline, such as wrestling or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, before making the transition. Cole Miller, however, needed just over three years to evolve from a young, aspiring fighter with no combat sports experience into a top young contender with a spot on The Ultimate Fighter: Season Five, set to debut April 5 on Spike TV.

Miller was an MMA fan from the very beginning, watching Royce Gracie outclass a diverse group of fighters in the inaugural Ultimate Fighting Championship event. But he focused his athleticism on other endeavors, particularly baseball, which he played at the college level for Mercer University. It wasn’t until a coincidental meeting with an old friend during his freshman year that he first thought about training in the sport he watched for so many years.

“I was always a fan, but didn’t know that there was anywhere to train stuff like that in the town I lived,” Miller said. “Then one day this guy that went to my old high school walked [into] the bagel bakery I worked at with two black eyes. I was like, ‘What the hell happened to you?’ He told me it was from training MMA.”

He continued, “I knew what it was, so I was like, ‘I have to check this out.’ And here I am today.”

After investing so much time and energy into baseball, one would think changing course and picking up a completely new sport would be a difficult decision. However, Miller never doubted whether he was making the right choice. He dropped out of school after just one semester and focused on training and working enough to pay the bills.

“Growing up playing baseball all my life I always had aspirations of playing pro ball, but after a semester of fall practice, I realized I just wasn’t passionate about the sport anymore,” Miller said. “I was just a natural, so it wasn’t difficult for me to transition into MMA.”

Mowing Through the Competition

Miller had his first amateur fight after four months of training and almost literally ran through the competition, going 9-1 and finishing all of his fights without the need of the judges’ scorecards.

So far he’s equaled that success at the professional level with an 11-2 record, including wins over tough veterans John Strawn and Chris Mickle, and only one win coming via decision. Besides his athleticism, Miller explained that his mentality gives him the edge over his opponents, even when he’s at a disadvantage in the experience department. He’s not preoccupied with winning or losing, he simply enjoys fighting and testing his own limits.

“I think I always have the mental edge, because winning the fight means so little to me,” he said. “I'm not a competitive person at all. Of course I would like to win, but I really enjoy the fight itself.

“I'm not scared to take risks, and I’m constantly trying to finish both standing and on the ground. So I think that style frustrates a lot of people, because I'm fearless.”

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