It's cliché to say an upcoming bout is the biggest one of a fighter's career.
But for Josh Shockley, that almost certainly has to be the case for his Saturday fight.
The Lake Station graduate meets Micah Miller in the main event of Hoosier Fight Club 16, which takes place at Porter County Expo Center in Valparaiso. Given Miller's resume and pedigree, a win could catapult Shockley quickly back toward the big leagues.
Shockley (10-2), who trains at Duneland Vale Tudo in Hobart, is coming off a submission win over Mike Cannon his last time out in the HFC 13 main event. Before that, though, he suffered a quick first-round submission under the Bellator banner that had him briefly considering leaving the sport.
Miller may provide his stiffest test yet in a career that includes a win over UFC veteran Shamar Bailey and four fights for Bellator, the second most prominent MMA promotion in the world.
Miller made the cut for Season 14 of the UFC reality competition, "The Ultimate Fighter," but lost in his fight to get into the house. The Chicago native now trains at the esteemed American Top Team camp in South Florida alongside his brother, UFC veteran Cole Miller.
Despite Miller's career fighting for bigger promotions like the WEC and DREAM, Shockley isn't ready to call him his best opponent just yet.
"I've never really sat down and ranked my opponents, but he's definitely in the top three," Shockley said. "It's a big fight. Maybe after, I'll sit down and see where he stands."
Of Miller's 17 wins, nine have come by submission and another five by knockout. So Shockley knows he needs to be prepared for just about anything on Saturday.
And he said he prepared accordingly.
"I maybe did a little more submission defense (this camp), but I never really put any extra attention toward anything," he said. "I train the same for everybody, and Micah is no different."
This is a fight that has been on Shockley's mind for a while. He and Miller were scheduled to meet April 6 at HFC 15. But an injury knocked Shockley off the card, delaying the fight. Two months later, he'll have his chance – going after his second straight and fifth in six outings.
He said his injury was simply ill-timed, but meant there was no way he'd be ready for the fight at HFC 15.
"The injury only took me out for about two weeks," he said. "By the time fight night came, I was actually feeling pretty good – but I wouldn't have been able to train all the way up until then. And it would've been impossible to cut weight with the medicine I was on."
Now 100 percent, Shockley will look to make Miller the biggest name yet in his win column – even if he won't admit to it till Sunday.
HFC 16 also includes recent Season 16 "Ultimate Fighter" hopeful Kevin Nowaczyk in the co-main event against Quinton McCottrell.
The HFC 16 weigh-in event is free and open to the public at Calumet Harley-Davidson in Munster starting at 6 p.m.