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MMA UFC

Donald Cerrone vs. Jim Miller Shapes Up As Thrilling Headliner For UFC Fight Night 45

Donald Cerrone at weigh-in prior to facing Edson Barboza

David Manning USA TODAY Sports

No one in the UFC appears to love fighting more than Donald Cerrone. The veteran lightweight, who is on a mission to fight an incredible six times inside the Octagon in 2014, will be halfway to his goal when he meets Jim Miller on July 16. The matchup has been set as the five-round main event for Fight Night 45 in Atlantic City.

Both top-10 contenders had been mentioned as possible opponents for unbeaten Russian Khabib Nurmagomedov but instead will look to continue their climb up the lightweight rankings against each other. It shapes up as an all-action battle between two competitors with reputations for delivering exciting contests.

Cerrone has taken his game to another level since a disappointing setback at Fight Night 27 against Rafael dos Anjos. “Cowboy” has surged into the No. 7 ranking thanks to three consecutive finishes. He dominated and submitted Evan Dunham at UFC 167, and he followed up that impressive effort with a head-kick knockout of Adriano Martins and a first-round submission of Edson Barboza at the recent UFC on FOX 11.

Cerrone ate some heavy punches in the early moments of that contest in Orlando against the talented Brazilian before stunning Barboza with a crisp left jab and transitioning into a fight ending rear-naked choke. Cerrone has earned post-fight bonuses in his last three fights and has nine total bonuses during his 13-fight Octagon tenure. He’s gone 10-3 with the organization and is willing to tangle with anyone at any time. Cerrone is one of the few high level performers that the UFC can consistently rely on to appear every two or three months.

As for Miller, the No. 9 ranked New Jersey native gets a high profile assignment close to home after back-to-back submission victories. He finished Fabricio Camoes at UFC 168 in the first round and followed that up by choking out Yancy Medeiros in the opening stanza at UFC 172 in Baltimore. Miller has compiled a 13-3-1 record inside the Octagon and has faced the best of the best. He’s accumulated six post-fight bonuses.

This is a tremendous matchup between two fighters who have been exciting mainstays in the 155-pound weight class for quite some time. Both are on a serious push in the hopes of getting a future title shot, and the winner of this clash will find themselves in the title conversation. It definitely has the potential of being one of the best lightweight fights of the year.

Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports