David Teymur isn’t exactly sure where his callout of Jim Miller went wrong.
The 28-year-old lightweight was under the impression that a meeting with Miller was all but set for UFC Atlantic City on April 21, which just so happens to be in Miller’s home state of New Jersey. But earlier this week, his manager broke the bad news that the Miller camp had declined the bout.
“From our side, everything was done,” Teymur told MMA Fighting. “It was from the Jim Miller side. I’m like, ‘I accept the fight and I want to fight,’ so everything was hanging on Jim Miller. And he didn’t take the fight. He p**sied out, I don’t know.”
Though Teymur was confident the match would happen, according to him no contracts had been signed yet.
Since making his Octagon debut in February 2016, Teymur has gone 4-0 and begun to develop a reputation as a spoiler. Booked against blue chip prospect Lando Vannata at UFC 209, it was Teymur who emerged with the unanimous decision win at the end of one of 2017’s best fights. Nine months later, Teymur rolled into Detroit for UFC 218 to hand Michigan’s own Drakkar Klose his first professional loss.
Asked if he was embracing this villain role by looking to beat Miller in front of a New Jersey crowd, he acknowledged that it could have played a part in Miller passing on the fight.
“I’m just myself,” said Teymur. “Drakkar Klose, he was from Detroit and I won in his hometown. So Jim Miller is also from New Jersey, maybe it’s something like that.”
The UFC’s longest tenured lightweight with 27 trips to the Octagon on his MMA passport, Miller is on a career-worst three-fight skid, so it stands to reason that facing a fighter like Teymur who is streaking in the opposite direction might not have been in his best interests.
That leaves Teymur hoping to land a match with someone in “the top-10, top-15” and he likes his chances against any highly-ranked fighter, including current interim titleholder Tony Ferguson.
Teymur employed some MMA arithmetic to explain why he thinks he’d be a problem for Ferguson, citing the difficulty that “El Cucuy” had dealing with Vannata back in July 2016. Fighting on short notice, Vannata had Ferguson badly hurt in Round 1 before eventually succumbing to a choke in the second period.
“Everybody saw how the fight played when Lando Vannata fought against Tony Ferguson,” said Teymur. “And in my eye, Lando Vannata wins that fight if he didn’t get submitted by Tony Ferguson.”
He also wouldn’t mind facing another of Michigan’s favorite sons, “The Motown Phenom” Kevin Lee.
“After my fight against Lando Vannata, I heard that Kevin Lee was asking about fights and stuff like that so why not?” said Teymur. “That would be a fun fight.”
With both Ferguson and Lee booked, Teymur will likely have to look elsewhere for his next fight, which he is open to taking as soon as possible now that he’s no longer locked into the April 21 date.