It didn’t take long, but Jim Miller took some punishment.
Miller was knocked down when he waked into left hand 40 seconds into the main event of Friday’s UFC on FX show at Bridgestone Arena. A knee to the chin slowed him only for an instant as he went for -- and got -- a takedown.
After that, the only time Melvin Guillard touched Miller was when he tapped out due to a rear naked choke at 2:44 of the first round.
“I was really hoping I wouldn’t have to find out how hard he hits,” Miller said. “He has explosive shots. I don’t get knocked down too often.
"I was able to find my home on his back in the scramble and was able to work my arm underneath his neck. I feel pretty good once I get in that position as I can usually work things the way I need to.”
The event, the UFC's second in Nashville and the first of the promotion’s new television deal with Fox, drew a crowd of 7,228 and featured 10 bouts divided between two networks (FX and Fuel).
In addition to the fact that it was the headliner, the fight between Miller and Guillard was considered one that would position the winner near – or at – the top of the list of challengers for the lightweight title.
“We’re the best two [contenders] in the division,” Guillard said at the post-fight news conference. “We’re the two people guys run away from. Guys aren’t lining up to fight us.”
Together, they fought from the opening bell.
Guillard failed to take advantage because he was concerned about the possibility of punching himself to the point of fatigue before he actually punched out Miller.
“I had him hurt,” Guillard said. “I backed off when I could have probably swarmed him. I don’t regret anything I’ve done.”
Miller, who never has been knocked out, did not have a clear recollection of the punch that dropped or even the sequence of events that led to his victory.
“I really don’t know how I took his back,” Miller said. “Once I did, I wanted to squeeze as hard as I can.
“I train to be dangerous. Tonight, that helped me get out on top. I was still dangerous when I was hurt.”
• 155: Jim Miller d. Melvin Guillard, submission, first round (2:44).
• 170: Josh Neer d. Duane Ludwig, submission, first round (3:04). Ludwig showed a clear striking advantage through the first part of the round and opened a cut over Neer’s left eye. Neer finally got it to the ground, seized an opening and choked out Ludwig quickly after he locked in a guillotine.
“I didn’t know how bad the cut was above my eye so I knew I had to finish him and finish quick,” Neer said. “I saw an opening and got him. He’s probably the hardest puncher I’ve ever faced.”
• 135: Mike Easton d. Jared Papazian, majority decision (29-28, 30-27, 29-29). The third round was – by far – the most entertaining of a fight was a stand-up battle for all but the final minute or so of the second. Neither fighter did much with control along the cage. Easton simply landed more meaningful strikes with both his hands and his feet.
“He came to fight; I came to fight,” Easton said. “We talked a little trash and put on a great show.”
• Heavyweight: Pat Barry d. Christian Morecraft, KO, first round (3:38). Not long after Barry got out of an arm bar, he sent Morecraft to the ground with a thunderous left, dropped down with a heavy right and continued to deliver punches until referee Herb Dean stepped in.
“I had that killer instinct tonight,” Barry said. “I had some very accurate punches on the ground.”
• 185: Jorge Rivera d. Eric Schafer, TKO-strikes, second round (1:31). The fight turned when Schafer tried held on too long to a single leg. Rivera, who announced his retirement prior to the fight, spun out, delivered a heavy right that was the beginning of the end.
“I won the first round and got stupid in the second,” Schafer said. “He dazed me. I got caught underneath him and that was it.”
• 155: Khabib Nurmagomedov d. Kamal Shalorus, submission, third round (2:08). Nurmagomedov got a mount after he defended a guillotine choke attempt and executed a rear naked choke not long after that.
“It was my UFC debut and I was being very cautious,” Nurmagomedov “But when I mounted him in the 3rd round, I felt I had him and just went for it. “
• 170: Charlie Brenneman d. Daniel Roberts, unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28). The fighters spent the bulk of the time in all three rounds on the ground. Brenneman mostly carried the action from the top but Roberts threatened with submission attempts in the final seconds of the second (leg triangle) and third (kimura).
“I was whipping his butt and he almost got me at the end,” Brenneman said. “I got content with my position and he capitalized.”
• 155: Fabrício Camões d.. Tommy Hayden, submssion, first round (4:03). Camoes forced Hayden to tap with a rear naked choke after a well-executed grappling sequence.
“We scrambled a bit, then I got the opportunity to get on his back,” Camoes said.
• 145: Daniel Pineda d. Pat Schilling, submission, first round (1:37). Pineda got a rear naked choke and forced Schilling to tap out.
“He wanted to stand so I took him down and finished it,” Pineda said.
• 135: Nick Denis d. Joseph Sandoval, KO, first round (0:22). Denis ended it with four right elbows from a Muay Thai clinch.
“Couldn’t have gone any better,” Denis said.
(Each paid a $45,000 bonus)
• Knockout of the night: Denis
• Submission of the night: Miller
• Fight of the night: Berry-Morecraft