By Kristen Brown

UFC Middleweight Dan Miller has fought some of the biggest names in the octagon, including Chael Sonnen, Joe Doerkson, Damien Maia, and Michael Bisping. However, it is not just these exciting performances that make him one of the toughest fighters in the UFC. Some of Miller’s hardest battles have come outside of the cage. Yet Miller takes everything in his life in stride and remains almost stoic. “People go through stuff all of the time. Stuff happens. Life happens,” Miller stated.

In May of 2009 shortly before Miller was to face Chael Sonnen at UFC 98, Miller experienced every parent’s worst nightmare; the loss of a child. A year later his son, Daniel James, was born with Autosomal Recessive Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD).

PKD is a life threatening, often fatal genetic disorder characterized by the growth of numerous cysts in the kidneys. Little Daniel’s kidneys began failing at only two months old and he started dialysis shortly thereafter. After being hospitalized for a few months at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, Pa., Daniel returned home to New Jersey to the care of his parents, Dan and Kristin. They have learned to care for Daniel and manage his condition. Although the two actually perform his dialysis on a nightly basis, Daniel still requires nursing care for approximately sixteen hours a day. This past September Daniel had both kidneys removed and he is scheduled for a kidney transplant in January of this year. Insurance does not fully cover the cost of the transplant, nor does it cover cost of the life saving medications that Daniel will require for the rest of his life.

Dan and wife Kristin were recently forced to move in with Dan’s parents because their house was too small for little Daniel, their youngest daughter Katie, three dogs, and a whole room full of Daniel’s dialysis equipment. Daniel just returned home from a two week hospital stint because of an infection but his spirits are returning to normal. Dan’s mother Barbara described her grandson as a “fun little boy who is learning new stuff every day. Physically he is a little slow, but cognitively and mentally he is incredible.”

On Dec. 3 Mike Constantino’s AMA Fight Club in Whippany, New Jersey held a Super Seminar to raise funds for the Daniel James Miller Foundation. Dan and his younger brother, UFC Lightweight Jim Miller train at AMA. Both Miller brothers were present, as well as UFC Middleweight Chris Weidman, amongst others notable names. Clothing and gear from UFC fighters were raffled off, including Weidman’s walk out shirt and gloves from UFC 139.

“There is so much stress and so much pressure that goes along with fighting. That’s why I look at him and think that he is amazing for what he did and is doing,” said Weidman. Weidman who has a young daughter around Daniel’s age also said, “It’s crazy to think that this guy was actually training and fighting top guys in the world while going through this type of personal issues. I’d do anything I could to help.”

And Long Islander Chris Weidman is not the only one getting involved and offering help to the Millers. “The way the MMA community has come out to support my brother and my nephew is just amazing. You see everyone from Dana White, Lorenzo Fretitta, the UFC, and the fans in general. Other fighters, like guys that Dan fought, that I fought are coming out and supporting one of their own,” said the younger Miller brother. Dan continued, “My wife and I are overwhelmed with the support. It’s really going to help Danny out.”

Everything the Miller family is going through is “very emotional“, but Jim summed it up and said, “There is no way to repay all of these people for their time and effort and monetary donations. We will continue to fight our asses off and hopefully put on good shows.” Despite all of the hardships and issues that Dan has faced over the past few years he does not take anything away from his opponents that have beaten him. He said, “I fought some extremely tough competition. The guys I fought were the best in the world."

Of course Dan would like to return to cage some day, however, right now his priority is his family. “Obviously I’m thinking about it because it’s a part of my life. It’s a huge part of my life and I do have the desire to fight. But right now I’m trying to focus on Daniel because it’s getting closer to transplant time. So I don’t know right now I’ll be a stay at home dad.”

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