By now you’ve likely heard the story of kickboxer Mark Miller. After all, how many fighters in the world of combat sports come back from coronary heart disease and an aortic valve replacement?

In his second fight since returning to full health, Miller is slated to face Sergei Kharitonov at United Glory’s March 23 event in Moscow, Russia. Comparisons to Rocky IV, as played out as they might be, are something even the heavyweight acknowledges.

“The good news for me is that Rocky won,” joked Miller while speaking with The MMA Corner. “It’s going to be a Rocky IV redo.”

Miller shows off his scar from heart surgery (John Remus Photography)

At 36 years old, Miller is not only getting a second chance at life, but another shot at reaching the pinnacle of the kickboxing world. And had it not been for a pre-fight medical screening in 2006, the Pennsylvania native might not be here to speak about it.

“If I hadn’t been getting those tests in Florida, I never would’ve found out,” the fighter explained. “It’s hard to put into words how thankful I am.”

In his first fight back against Nikolaj Falin in May of 2011, “Fight Shark” needed just nine seconds to knock out his opponent. Although he had nothing personal against Falin, years of frustration were released in a single right hook.

“There was a lot of pent-up emotion,” Miller admitted. “Someone called me Job–the biblical character–after everything that had happened. It was one thing after the other and to finally be in there fighting, I had a lot inside of me that I needed to get out.”

 

Some pundits claimed that the devastating shot that floored the favored Falin was a “lucky shot.” Miller had harsh words for the ignorant comments.

“There’s no such thing as a lucky shot in fighting,” explained the K-1 veteran. “It’s fighting; that’s the whole point.”

 

Following the win, Miller was invited to join the prestigious Golden Glory gym in Holland, a rarity for an American.

“It’s the greatest blessing of my career,” declared Miller. “Obviously if you are in the kickboxing world, especially the K-1 arena, the height of the sport is Holland. Their system is proven. It’s just an honor to be there and learn everyday. They constantly push you to get better.”

Preparing for Kharitonov proved to be unique, as the Russian is another Golden Glory fighter. As such, Miller held his camp in California at Bas Rutten’s gym. Whatever the Russian throws his way in Moscow, Miller will be ready.

“He’s big and strong and has proven a lot in the MMA world, but at the end of the day, he is coming into my world,” said Miller. “I have a lot more kickboxing experience and I’m not going to stand in front of him; getting into a brawl would be stupid. It’s a good match-up for me.”

Miller delivers a flying knee (Riley Kern Studios)

Miller’s confidence comes not only from experience, but the fact that Kharitonov is known more for his boxing prowess than his kickboxing skills.

“You don’t go out and play to a guy’s strength,” Miller stated. “My hands are a strength but he definitely doesn’t kick a lot. The plan is to exploit his weaknesses and showcase my strengths.”

A win over Kharitonov will be the first step in what Miller hopes is a big 2012. He’s chomping at the bit to get in the ring.

“I’m well prepared and I’m looking forward to going in there and showing my whole game,” said Miller. “We have a good game plan and I’m going to execute it on Friday night.”

Mark would like to thank all of his sponsors, his family, his kids, Shelby Jones for putting up with him, Carlo Dekkers, Anthony Bourdain, @RWayneCollins and everybody that’s helped him along the way.

 

Top Photo: Mark Miller (L) has his hand raised victory (Glory World Series)