Heading into last Friday's International Fight League event at the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut, perhaps the least known of all the title match participants was Dan Miller.
Having only participated in one previous IFL event, Miller had made a name for himself in smaller promotions around the New Jersey fighting circuit, amassing a 7-1 record prior to last Friday.
Clearly the underdog to champion Ryan McGivern in their 185-pound title match, Miller's submission skills got the better of his wrestling-based opponent, earning him his first major MMA title.
"I feel great," exclaimed Miller of his middleweight title victory. "I thought it was a good fight for me and it feels good to win the belt over such a good fighter.
"I thought I performed pretty well. I think it was a back and forth with the stand-up, but the takedown went really good for me, and the ground the same thing."
When asked how it feels to be a champion now, Miller responded not with contentment, but with anticipation of what's to come by saying, "I can't wait to get in the ring again and prove that I should be there."
With the IFL not slated to host another show for three months, he should have ample time to get ready for his first title defense should the promotion call upon him.
Commented Miller, "They asked me about returning in August for the (New) Jersey show. They didn't offer anything, just asked if I'd be interested and I said, 'Yeah, definitely.' We'll see who they offer and everything, but I would really like to step up on the Jersey card."
IFL CEO Jay Larkin made it clear in a recent conference call that the promotion may be willing to share talent with another organization. The question was posed to Miller whether or not he'd be willing to take a fight with another promotion prior to his first title defense.
"The fight would have to be right and the money would have to be right," he responded. "If everything fell in place, yeah I'll do that."
While it may be uncertain when he will return to action, in the meantime Miller intends to improve and become better prepared for the road ahead of him.
"There's definitely room for improvement," said Miller of his game. "I just want to be a better, more complete fighter.
"(I want to) not always have to take the fight to the ground. I want to be able to be comfortable wherever the fight goes, and just be more complete."
Winning over McGivern and claiming the IFL's middleweight championship has afforded Miller the recognition that he has long worked so hard for. Now all he has to do is stick to his word and prove he belongs with the best in the 185-pound division.
"I'd really like to thank my sponsors, Full Contact Fighter, Gold Chiropractic; all my training partners and my family," he concluded. "I just want the fans keep watching me, I promise to keep the fights exciting and keep the pace up."