Juliana Miller picked up the biggest win of her young career Saturday and afterwards she was more than happy to break it down.
Not only did Miller find a finish in the third round to defeat Brogan Walker and become The Ultimate Fighter 30 flyweight tournament champion, she put a personal stamp on it by directing a ‘crotch chop’ motion at Walker. The celebration evoked memories of the classic professional wrestling stable “Degeneration X,” which featured WWE legends like Shawn Michaels and Triple H throughout its various incarnations.
Miller spoke about the inspiration behind the move at Saturday’s UFC Vegas 59 post-fight press conference.
“My grandma, when she moved here from Brazil, she didn’t speak any English,” Miller said. “She was learning English from TV shows … And so as she was starting to learn English, she said that she loved wrestling because she didn’t need to understand the words to see what was happening, it was all through the action.
“When I came to my team, I was like, ‘I want to be a pro wrestler one day,’ and my coaches were like, ‘Well, let’s give you a shot in the cage and see how you do,’ and I ended up loving it. But that pro wrestler spirit lives within me forever, and I just think it’s exciting to put on a show. More than anything, the ‘suck it’ [gesture] just came from the fact that she sat up here on this same table and decided to say she was going to highlight-reel knock me out cold, so it felt good to stand over her and say, ‘Look at you now.’”
Miller (3-1) was one of the standout personalities from the most recent season of TUF and she backed up her talk in the cage. In the quarterfinals, she avenged her lone pro loss with a decision win over Claire Guthrie, and then finished Kaytlin Neil by submission in the semifinals to book her matchup with Walker. On Saturday, Miller dominated Walker from top position for the majority of the bout before finishing with ground-and-pound with just over a minute remaining in the fight.
There was pre-fight tension between Miller and Walker, which made the win that much more satisfying for the Team Julianna Peña representative.
“I’ve never had somebody huffing and puffing in my face or screaming like that, but it really just showed me how scared she was,” Miller said. “… Seeing that from a school teacher, I’m like, ‘Damn, is this what the Guam school districts be like? Because holy crap, poor kids.’”
Though Walker entered the bout with three times as much pro experience as Miller, she was full of confidence going into the tournament final and that only increased as the fight went on.
By the third round, she was firing back at Walker both physically and verbally.
“She was holding on to my arms for dear life and she put her mouth up to my ear and she started talking,” Miller said. “She’s like, ‘You ain’t going to hit me again with those elbows,’ and I’m like, ‘Girl, do you not feel your eye, because it’s pretty poofy right now?’ … I was like, ‘Girl, do you don’t realize I’m mounted on you right now?’
“At the end of the third round, it felt good when I finally started talking back a little and gave her some hell-bows for my grandma.”