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Old 03-16-2011, 03:18 PM   #1 (permalink)
Dexter Morgan
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UFC 128's Dan Miller calls last-minute fill-in "bittersweet"

It's never a happy occasion to profit from another person's misfortune. But in the end, the show must go on.

Dan Miller (14-4 MMA, 5-3 UFC) took a big leap when he agreed to fight Nate Marquardt (30-10-2 MMA, 9-4 UFC) at UFC 128 in place of Yoshihiro Akiyama, who withdrew from Saturday's event in the wake of the devastating earthquake in Japan.

So while Miller is excited to get the opportunity to fight the perennial contender, he said today that it's a "bittersweet" feeling to fill in.

"Your heart goes out to the Japanese people, and it's unfortunate," he said today at a press conference in support of the pay-per-view event, which takes place at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. "I'm just taking this opportunity that the UFC gave me, and I'm trying to make the most of it."

Akiyama, a native of Osaka, Japan, was one of thousands affected by this past Friday's 8.9 magnitude temblor, which officials estimate has caused billions of dollars worth of damage and produced a death toll north of 10,000. He posted pictures on his personal website of the quake's damage to his personal website. The UFC's managing director of international development, Marshall Zelaznik, said the fighter was not hurt during the disaster.

Marquardt, who's attempting to rebound from a lackluster decision loss to Yushin Okami in his most recent appearance, echoed Miller's condolences.

"I got the news about Akiyama dropping out, and my thoughts and prayers go out to all the Japanese people," he said. "I'm just really thankful that Dan stepped up so I could have a fight. I know we're going to go out and put on a great performance, and an exciting fight."

Miller, meanwhile, is on the rebound after a three-fight skid nearly signaled his exit from the UFC. He has posted wins over John Salter and Joe Doerksen in his most recent appearances. He was scheduled to meet fellow New Jerseyan Nick Catone before the short-notice switch.

It's unclear how the switch affects the prospects of Miller and Marquardt, other than both are fighting to stay "in the mix," as UFC president Dana White so often puts it.

"Thank God [Miller] stepped up in competition and take this opportunity," White said at the press conference. "That's what it's all about. The unfortunate thing that happened, and Akiyama can't get out of Japan, yet he steps up and takes this big fight.

"It's a huge opportunity for him, and I respect him and appreciate him for stepping up."

Nate by UD or TKO in my oppinion.
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