Melvin Guillard first entered my radar with his performance against Nate Diaz at UFC Fight Night 19 in September 2009. He lost that night, unwisely leaving his head glued to Diaz’s left hip after an otherwise impressive and explosive takedown halfway through Round 2.
Through one-and-a-half rounds of that fight, however, Guillard showed a quickness, accuracy and mental fortitude that left me wondering if this young, yet experienced fighter couldn’t someday make some serious noise in the UFC.
Fast forward to this past Saturday night, when Guillard took out 2010’s top breakout fighter, Evan Dunham, in just over two minutes, and the noise is ringing loud and clear.
At 27-8-2, Guillard has walked into the cage enough times to not be considered green in this sport, but for too long he carried no ground game to go with his viciously quick and effective striking game.
A quick glance over his long list of fights will show countless wins by KO and TKO due to strikes, but also six losses due to various submissions, mostly the result of some form of choke.
I write this fully aware that Guillard escaped the Octagon this past Saturday without ever needing to prove himself on the ground against Dunham.
Shocking, since I can recall watching Dunham twist up Efrain Escudero in nasty fashion to win submission of the night just one year ago, and his list of victories includes an impressive run of submissions before entering the UFC.
I would have thought the game plan for Dunham would be to get the fight to the ground, but he didn’t seem interested in doing that. Regardless, his fault was Guillard’s gain, and the fast rising Dunham was quickly humbled and bested by a fearless Guillard.
The question of whether or not Guillard does—and can—possess the total MMA package is still lingering, but a fight like this will only make people stand and take notice.
Lest we forget that this was also the night’s headliner, which should tell you that the UFC is already eyeing Guillard as a showstopper worthy of prime-time viewership.
In a division that seems to grow thicker in talent with each new show, it’s unknown how high Guillard can climb.
It can certainly be said that with proper coaching under Greg Jackson, with whom Guillard now trains, the possibilities are sky-high, and at only 27 years old, the future looks bright for this young phenom.