He did it to us again.
Going into UFC 136, the highly-talented but equally unstable and inconsistent Melvin Guillard had the world believing that it was his time, and that the lightweight title was but a fight away for him.
He bounced into the cage grinning like the cat that caught the canary, looking as though he felt just as everyone else in Houston did: like Joe Lauzon was no match for him, and the MMA community was fixing to see exactly why.
Fast forward maybe five minutes, if you include time for ring introductions, and Lauzon’s hand is being raised. The same hand that, within that five minutes, had been planted firmly in Melvin’s mush a couple of times and allowed Lauzon the required time to pounce on his back and slap on a tight, unforgiving rear naked choke.
And just like that, Guillard’s hype train was derailed. Back of the line, Melvin, nice to know you.
It’s a story that’s been written countless times in the career of a young man with a toolbox more full than many in MMA, but with a history of baffling in-cage displays and attitude issues away from the fight. It’s become so routine with the way Guillard disappoints and struggles that Dana White himself has said the man is the greatest waste of talent in the history of the sport.
Pretty harsh words about a kid still well off from his 30th birthday, and they came this week, with Guillard a fight away from a title shot. Imagine what Dana thought of him when he was squandering his modest fame after filming TUF 2 and partying like a rock star.
Truth be told, Melvin Guillard isn’t the only guy in MMA with great physical tools and an off-the-wall mental game. However, he’s the most prominent at the moment, because he looked to be over the hump in recent fights. He’d been destroying the competition, and most sentences about him were starting with “It’s about time he…” instead of “If only he would…”
Actually, the first frenzied exchange between he and Lauzon made it look as though it would be a short night’s work for Melvin, and probably an easy bonus check for him, too. Well, it was a short night’s work, and there was a bonus handed out as a result of his fight, but neither aspect went as he’d hoped.
It’s a puzzling occurrence, how Guillard has risen through the ranks. He’s explosive and exciting, has great wrestling and remarkable striking and can win fights basically however he wants. His main enemy is himself, as his overconfidence once he puts on a few good showings seems to be his undoing. Even super-coach Greg Jackson can’t seem to iron out that wrinkle in his game, and it’s undeniably the biggest one.
After his loss at 136, the MMA world is left to wonder which man Melvin really is. Is he the man who crushes opponents violently and with ease, or is he the guy who can’t handle his own success and undoes himself mentally as a result?
Will the real Melvin Guillard please stand up? The lightweight division needs to know who you really are.