If potential always equated to success, Melvin Guillard would be a UFC champion.
The world of sports is a complicated place. It isn't always about being the bigger, stronger or more explosive athlete. There are numerous intangibles that separate a champion from a contender.
UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar is far from being the biggest and strongest in the division, but his willingness to fight through adversity in back-to-back title bouts against Gray Maynard propelled him to succeed at the highest level.
Anderson Silva, who is widely considered the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, went backstage and sparred two extra rounds immediately after a lackluster performance in his October 2008 win over Patrick Cote.
After dominating Dan Hardy for five rounds at UFC 111, Georges St-Pierre was more concerned about fixing problems with his submission technique than celebrating his fourth consecutive title defense.
These are just a few examples of a champion's mentality. Fighters like Silva, Edgar and St-Pierre aren't seeking momentary success. They are looking to achieve all-time greatness.
What is Guillard looking to achieve?
After an impressive five-fight win streak, the former Greg Jackson pupil is coming off back-to-back submission losses to Joe Lauzon and Jim Miller. Coincidentally enough, both losses came in the first round by rear naked choke.
From purely a physical perspective, Guillard has all the tools you could ask for in a fighter. He's strong, explosive, a terrific wrestler and a dangerous striker.
With all of the physical tools in place, what's keeping Guillard from succeeding at the highest level?
Most people will point to holes in his submission game. In his most recent submission loss to Miller, Guillard acknowledged his submission woes and vowed to improve his weaknesses.
"Give me about a year man; just be patient with me, and I'll submit someone," Guillard said at the postfight press conference for UFC on Fox.
With over 40 bouts under his belt, Guillard is one of the most experienced fighters on the UFC roster. Why has it taken this long for him to take his submission game seriously?
Great submission artists have been a thorn in Guillard's side throughout his entire career. In 10 losses, nine of those bouts were ended by submission.
Regardless of overall success and accolades achieved, it is important to stay grounded and remain an avid student of the sport.
There is nothing more important than the mental aspect of fighting. Champions never stop learning and evolving. Knowledge fuels confidence, which enables a fighter to perform at the highest level.
Is Guillard doing everything he needs to do in training to perform at the highest level?
Guillard and his trainers are the only people who can truly answer that question. The potential is definitely there, but Guillard has some serious work to do in shoring up submission deficiencies.
How bad does he want it?
So far, we know not as bad as Miller and Lauzon.
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