TUF 16 Finale: Questions We Have About Melvin Guillard

Nathan McCarter@McCarterNFeatured ColumnistDecember 14, 2012

TUF 16 Finale: Questions We Have About Melvin Guillard

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    Melvin Guillard returns to the Octagon for the first time since suffering a knockout loss to Donald Cerrone at UFC 150.

    He will meet Jamie Varner on the main card of the The Ultimate Fighter: Team Carwin vs. Team Nelson finale.

    Guillard has already been in the cage three times in 2012. He is 1-2 in his previous outings. A victory would put him back on the winning track and thrust his name back in to the mix at lightweight. The victory will not come easy against a crafty veteran like Varner.

    Here are five questions we have about Guillard.

Can He Avoid the Dumb Mistakes?

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    Guillard has shown his athletic gifts in his numerous UFC outings, but he has also shown he has a penchant for making dumb mistakes that cost him fights.

    When he feels too confident, he will drop his hands and give his opponents a prime opportunity to connect with strikes.

    He has made that mistake numerous times. But it is not just on the feet where he gets cocky. His confident nature has led to submission losses as well.

    Varner is a former champion and a veteran who knows how to capitalize on minor mistakes. Guillard cannot afford to make those mistakes again. He needs to stay within himself and increase his likelihood of winning.

What Will Be His Game Plan?

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    Guillard often relied on his power and quickness, but in 2010 we started to see him mature. He came in to match-ups with a game plan and he stuck to it. That allowed him to rack up five straight wins and put him in the mix at the top of the division.

    Then his confidence got the better of him. Joe Lauzon and Jim Miller humbled him.

    It will be interesting to see what game plan Guillard brings in to the cage on Saturday night. Both fighters are good strikers with good wrestling. Will he want to trade with Varner? Can he put Varner on his back and grind out a win?

    His skill set gives him many options. He can mix it up well and keep Varner guessing, but we will have to wait to see what Guillard chooses to do.

Will His Striking Match Varner's?

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    Varner returned to the UFC in 2012 with an upset win over Edson Barboza. He followed that up with a Fight of the Night performance against Joe Lauzon, a fight in which he lost.

    He is a skilled striker with knockout power. With an unknown question about Guillard's chin, it should make him extra cautious of getting caught in a fire fight against Varner.

    Guillard has shown fantastic striking of his own, but it is not as consistent as Varner's. He possesses knockout power in his hands and legs. He has several body-shot knockouts to his credit as well.

    If they exchange on the feet, it will be interesting to see if he can match Varner.

Can He Take Punishment?

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    Guillard is returning from a knockout loss, and one always has to question how a fighter will return coming off a loss like that.

    The talented athlete is only 29 years old, but he has had 44 professional fights. How have the wars effected his ability to absorb blows?

    With Varner's power, he cannot take a risk by getting in a brawl. Guillard has only been away from action for four months. Is that enough time to fully recover?

    This is an exceptionally dangerous fight for someone coming off a KO loss. If he cannot take a shot from Varner, then it could be a very quick night.

Can He Take the Next Step?

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    In 2011, Guillard was on the doorstep to a title shot. He was one or two fights away from getting his chance. After back-to-back losses, he was sent to the back of the line.

    Since then, he is 1-1. Throughout his career, he has met a wide array of fighters in the UFC. His biggest win came against Evan Dunham. He stole his momentum.

    Unfortunately for Guillard, he has not beaten a true top contender at lightweight. Joe Lauzon, Jim Miller, Nate Diaz and Donald Cerrone have all beaten Guillard. They have all finished Guillard.

    Defeating a quality fighter like Varner will be the first step in making another move up the ladder. It will also show that Guillard can beat a former champion.

    This will be an important fight for Guillard's title chances in the future. He needs to show he can take the next step at lightweight.