At the highest levels of mixed martial arts, 2012 signifies a monumental beginning to a new era within the sport. The flagship of the sport, The UFC, has engaged its groundbreaking agreement with FOX Networks to feature MMA on live network television.
The first of many installments of UFC on FOX took place in November between two heavyweight destroyers, Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos. Next, the UFC will take another step with FOX, as they feature UFC on FX 1.
Coming to fight fans live on FX from Nashville, Tennessee, the UFC will look to feature their first-ever extended fight card on live network television. Reminiscent of the old UFC on VS or UFC Fight Nights on Spike, this is not a star studded event, but it is loaded with explosive matchups.
Headlining this card is a matchup that spells fireworks and could become all out open war. The main event between Melvin Guillard and Jim Miller is a volatile match up of top lightweight contenders in a stacked division.
Fans will see two young veterans of the fight game. 59 combined wins vs. 12 combined losses is what these two have to offer. With 35 combined finishes, this is a dangerous match for both men who have made their reputations as athletes who are not interested in judge's decisions.
Both reputations have been well earned and for different reasons. Neither man can be boxed into a style per say but they do represent clear and present threats in certain areas. Miller is known for his submission prowess and Guillard for his devastating striking power.
It is a classic stylistic matchup between two respected lightweights who both desperately want to make their way to title contention. Guillard was close as recently as his most recent submission loss to Joe Lauzon at UFC 136. "The Young Assassin" is now looking to get back on the horse.
He has made some recent changes in his life, particularly in relation to his camp. Having spent his fair share of time roaming the mats at world-renowned Greg Jackson's, Guillard has made a move from the New Mexico desert to the beaches of sunny Florida and began training with the Blackzilians.
Looking to diversify his portfolio Guillard is splitting his time between the two. He has been primarily training for this fight under Mike Van Arsdale at Blackzilians. His coach has seen some drastic changes in who Melvin Guillard the fighter was and who he is becoming.
Van Arsdale sat down to talk with HurtsBad MMA about the time he has spent with Guillard and exactly what he sees today and expects tomorrow from this new addition to his camp.
Van Arsdale told Todd Jackson of HurtsBad MMA to expect some changes. He explained some of the differences. "Melvin is ready to battle now. He's not looking for just one punch or anything. I mean he can deliver that one punch at any time, which is scary for Jim Miller, but he is ready to engage and fight the whole time."
Guillard has seven KO wins inside the Octagon but Van Arsdale explained how that has transformed from the overall recipe to just a piece of the equation now that his conditioning is maximized. "I'm not seeing Melvin fatiguing, I'm not seeing Melvin having ups and downs during practice. I'm just seeing Melvin charging and going straight for it. I'm actually seeing Melvin finish practices harder than he started them out."
Van Arsdale went on to say, "So that was the biggest difference was his conditioning, his confidence, and his overall ability to go in there and engage. Not just for the first minute or two minutes of a fight, but to fight hard like that and put pressure on his opponent from the beginning all the way to the end. I think that's you'll see."
The thought of Guillard coming hard for three rounds, firing on all cylinders, is an intimidating thought for any lightweight. Yet even with all that confidence, Van Arsdale was sure to give credit where it is due. A win over Miller would not be worth much if he were not a top shelf lightweight.
Van Arsdale talked about their opponent and the issues he presents. "Jim is a left-handed fighter. He has a good right hook. He has pretty good wrestling and he probably has about four moves that he is really good at with his submissions. Jim Miller doesn't get tired either. That is why we had to train Melvin so that he could breathe throughout the entire contest as well. Just in case it's some type of crazy paced, wrestling, boxing, up and down, knockout affair."
The talent of Jim Miller has fueled the fire of preparation, according to Van Arsdale. "We had to make sure he was prepared for that. And you know what; it was a tough camp for him. But now that the camp is over and there are no injuries or anything it turns out it was really good. So I feel really good about Melvin and his ability to go up against a guy like Jim Miller who has proved time and time again that he is just hard to deal with."
Conditioning is only one piece of the puzzle though. Van Arsdale has brought a clear and sound approach to what they have done and how they have studied Miller in their efforts to emerge victorious on fight night.
The Blackzilian coach told Hurtsbad MMA, "I think maybe one guy dominated Miller but were not looking at that fight, we are looking at the ones where he did well. We are not going to look at a fight where some guy beat the crap out of him because that doesn't help us. Then you're fooling yourself."
He added, "We are preparing for the best Jim Miller that ever lived and that is what Melvin is ready to beat now."
The best Jim Miller is a scary lightweight combatant. And if Van Arsdale has groomed Melvin Guillard to be the man to beat that Jim Miller than surely this could also be the best Guillard MMA has ever seen as well.
Somewhere Dana White is grinning as he and Joe Silva may have formulated a masterpiece of a bout to showcase on their first run at UFC on FX. These two elite lightweights can hold their own and on any given day they can make a run at any lightweight on the planet.
The combination of the two is a recipe for success on many levels. One fighter will fall, one will prevail, but in the process of those details, fight fans are going to get a healthy dose of the finer points of this sport.
Mike Van Arsdale has done his part to prepare Guillard for the biggest test of his career, and surely Miller's camp has done the same. When they touch gloves and begin to mix it up on January 20th, it is extremely compelling to imagine what might take place inside that Octagon.
Tune in fight fans—it's free MMA between two top fighters in the division. And they only represent one of many enticing matchups for UFC on FX 1.
This article originally featured at Hurtsbad MMA. Follow us on Twitter @HurtsBad.