When Melvin Guillard steps into the Octagon this weekend to face Ross Pearson at UFC Fight Night 30, his career may hang in the balance. He’s lost four of his last six fights, a troublesome situation given that the UFC has released some big-name fighters this year.
Should he lose to Pearson, he may very well end up receiving his pink slip along with his check, adrift on the seas of free agency.
Guillard has fought 20 times in the UFC, losing eight of those bouts since 2005. He’s been a fighter who has been up more than down, at least until October of 2011, when his latest skid began.
Yet he has all the tools needed to turn the ship around, win his second fight in a row and perhaps even make a run at the title if he can just be consistent from here on out. After all, he’s done it before.
After Guillard saw a three-fight win streak snapped by a submission loss to Nate Diaz in 2009, he came right back and reeled off five victories, including a TKO over Evan Dunham. He has the athleticism and the power, but there has always been something missing when it came down for the final run.
Call it dedication, focus, discipline; it may or may not be any of these things, but he’s never been able to bring it all together as a cohesive whole on a consistent basis.
Once upon a time I likened Guillard to Zab Judah: a boxer who once upon a time looked to be the future of that sport. He was incredibly fast, explosive and a devastating puncher.
Then it all unraveled, thanks to a single loss. From that point forward, Judah was up and down in his career. He managed to win belts in divisions that were void of truly excellent fighters, but he never remained consistent, except in his inconsistency.
Guillard may not have won a belt in the UFC, but he could probably be a champion in any number of lesser organizations. Early in his career, he fought 10 times in 2003, winning nine bouts, seven via KO/TKO.
But belts in lesser organizations do not possess the luster, the gravitas that a UFC title holds.
And right now, a title shot isn’t even on the radar for Guillard, especially if he loses to Pearson this weekend.
Some fighters have always fought best when their backs are against the wall. Tito Ortiz, who was on an enormous losing streak, defeated Ryan Bader to save his job in the UFC. But Ortiz was a former champion and an established name for the company; to think that Guillard may get the same kind of preferential treatment as Ortiz is unlikely.
In all probability, he needs to defeat Pearson in order to remain a UFC fighter: victory or dismissal.
And so goes the professional career of Melvin Guillard—always on the precipice of either greatness or failure.