UFC lightweight Melvin Guillard is the fighter to watch, the fighter to beat at 155 pounds the way he tells it.
Since “The Young Assassin” arrived in the UFC as a member of The Ultimate Fighter season two, his brash personality and athleticism propelled the Louisiana-native into a select group of MMA fighters that are either loved or hated. Six years later, a matured Guillard touts training at Greg Jackson’s MMA in Albuquerque, New Mexico for his new perspective on himself and the lightweight class.
"I'm an unstoppable force right now and I'm confident to say that about myself. It's not gonna be easy. No it's not gonna be easy by far,” said the 28-year-old to Bleacher Report, “but there's a lot of great 55'ers right now in the UFC and out of the UFC. It's like I said, it's anybody's ballgame. It's all about who makes a statement and right now I'm ready to make a statement."
Guillard rides a four-fight win streak—and has taken seven of his last eight—into Saturday night’s bout versus Shane Roller at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada for UFC 132.
Roller, a three-time All-American wrestler from Oklahoma State University, successfully transitioned from the WEC to the UFC with a Knockout of the Night performance against Thiago Tavares in March. The come-from-behind KO didn’t impress Guillard, who insists his knockouts happen while he’s imposing his will—not coming from behind. He asserts late rally knockouts have stolen bonuses from him before too. When the two face off on Spike TV, Guillard plans to show Roller how to score a real Knockout of the Night while fighting off the decorated wrestler with his wrestling and his judo.
"I know Shane Roller isn't near as fast as I am," he said.
The two-time Knockout of the Night winner believes he’s already at the top of the lightweight contender crop. It’s not the same bravado of his youthful days in the UFC, but a declaration from a fighter with a wealth of experience approaching his prime. In Roller, he sees a fight to stay busy and continue building his fan base more than to prove he’s a contender, something he asserts he’s already established.
"The more fights I win, the more money I make of course, and the more opportunity the fans will get to speak for me. I'm definitely a person that fights for the crowd, fights for the fans. When that opportunity is given to me, no one can ever question it and say, ‘Did they give Melvin a title shot or did he earn it?’ It'll be self-spoken,” said Guillard.
He began fighting professionally as a teenager and while his official record dates his career to 2002, he boasts 15 years of experience. Splitting time at Keith Jardine’s Mean 1 MMA in addition to Jackson’s, Guillard swims to open up his lung capacity, runs the mountains for explosive energy and even adopted teammate UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre’s affinity for gymnastics to “reinvent the wheel” for himself and his training. It’s all the name of preparing Melvin Guillard to seize a crown he views as sized for his own head—something he’s grown into during his UFC tenure.
“If I would have become a champion five years ago, I would have messed my life up. I probably wouldn't even be talking to you right now,” he said. “I would have been a has-been like numerous guys. There are guys that became champions and you never hear from them again."
With contenders like Clay Guida and Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in his camp and in his weight class, Guillard reveals a promise between the teammates that the only way they would fight is for the belt, currently held by Frankie Edgar.
“I'm not gonna put my life on hold and one day have a kid and tell my kid, ‘Oh well, your dad would have been a great champion but I opted not to take the fight because I didn't want to fight my teammate.’ It's everybody's dream to be a UFC champion,” said Guillard. “I don't want nobody to take my dream for me and I wouldn't want them to not take an opportunity if I was a champion."
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