There has never been any question regarding the talent that Melvin Guillard possesses. When you combine his extreme athleticism with bone crunching power it will give a lot of opposing coaches and fighters many sleepless nights. The questions that arise when people wonder why Guillard has yet to win a championship or at the very least contend for one are all related to his psyche. Just when you begin to think he has learned from his past mistakes he gets caught repeating the errors that have slowed his career down and stopped him from fulfilling his promise.
At just 29-years-old “The Young Assassin” is preparing for his 43rd professional mixed martial arts bout. On July 7 he will face Fabricio Comoes at UFC 148 in Las Vegas. He made his professional debut shortly after his 19th birthday and has faced some of the very best lightweights in the world. He holds a 10-6 record with the UFC with six of those victories coming by way of knockout. Guillard has been choked out in all six of his losses inside the Octagon. That isn’t by coincidence; his opponents know that is his Achilles Heel and look to take advantage of it as soon as possible all the while avoiding his powerful strikes.
Guillard made the decision to begin training with Greg Jackson and the results began to pay off immediately. He seemed more mature and his takedown defense was greatly improved. But after racking up five straight impressive wins Guillard decided to leave Jackson’s and head to Florida to train with The Blackzilians. He lost his very next fight against Joe Lauzon and his subsequent fight against Jim Miller. Guillard is quick to point out that the losses were his fault and not the change in camps. With a renewed confidence and belief in his team, Guillard is ready to bounce back and become a UFC champion.
“The biggest difference in this training camp is I feel that my strength and conditioning is a lot better than in any other camp,” Guillard told Five Ounces of Pain. “Being my whole team is all Brazilian I feel very confident that my jiu-jitsu is as strong as it has ever been. I’ve been training in gi and no-gi under Ricco Rodriguez and I don’t think I’ll have any trouble if the fight hits the ground. I’ve always trained my BJJ, but this fight I am really putting in the time. I am not neglecting it like I have with my prior fights. I was spending a lot of my time training my wrestling and stand-up, but I have some of the best coaches in the world here and I’m taking advantage of that now. Nothing against Team Jackson, but here we really have that family environment and it’s made a big difference in my game.”
Speaking of his time in New Mexico and training with Jackson, Guillard went on to elaborate the biggest differences he has noticed since making the transition to Imperial Athletics and The Blackzilians. Some people questioned the move, but according to Guillard it is the best decision he could’ve made for his career and his life outside of the cage.
“To be honest with you the best way I can describe the difference is its like night and day,” Guillard said. “I have absolutely nothing bad to say about him or the team. I really miss those guys, but Coach Greg made it a fun training environment while here at the Blackzilians it’s all about hard work and concentrating on making everyone better. It’s not about anyone individual here. There isn’t one head coach or any one man in charge it’s a group of trainers who work together for the greater good of the team. All of our coaches are head coaches. Down in New Mexico coach Greg is the face of the team that’s not how it is here. While there is no such thing as a perfect team we are striving to get as close to perfection as possible. We are more of a family first and you have to be a family first before you can become a team.”
Before suffering back to back losses to Lauzon at UFC 136 and Miller at UFC on FX 1, Guillard was on a five-fight winning streak and was considered as one of the top contenders in a stacked lightweight division. This fight with Camoes represents an opportunity for Guillard to right his ship and get back into the winning column against a tough BJJ blackbelt. Guillard has always been a fighter who has that take on all comers attitude.
“Right now I am just taking it one fight at a time, I’ve lost two in a row and I need to win this next one,” offered the New Orleans native. “I’ve told Dana White and Joe Silva I want to fight the best guys in the sport. I’ll fight whomever they put in front of me, I will never say no to a fight. It’s all about guys wanting to fight me and that’s the biggest catch. There are some cats who haven’t wanted to step up to the plate and challenge me. Whether it’s the champion or a guy coming straight off of The Ultimate Fighter I’ll fight anyone. I’m not the type of guy that other fighters are lining up to fight me.”
“The last two fights I’ve lost on my own going back to the Lauzon fight. I rushed myself and he wound up catching me. If I had to pick any one guy that I wanted to fight it would have to be Joe Lauzon. He was very disrespectful after he won the fight. All I said was I thought I beat myself because I was too amped up and I was also transitioning between camps. I gave him respect for beating me, but then I read in a magazine that he punched me in my face, dropped me and then choked me out. I tried to take the high road and be professional about it, but he chose to be disrespectful about it. I want to win this fight and hopefully get a rematch with Lauzon.”
“Lauzon caught me with a lucky punch and that was the deciding factor,” Guillard continued. “I could see if he beat me up for five minutes, but he didn’t and it will be different if we meet again. Right now I have Fabricio in my sights and I feel like I fight better with my back against the wall. I have two losses in a row so the pressure is on me to get a win. In my mind I feel like this could be my last fight in the UFC if I don’t get a win. I always fight better when my back is against the wall. I am also undefeated when I fight during the Fourth of July weekend so I have two big things in my favor. I relish the opportunity to fight under pressure.”
When the Miller fight got brought up, Guillard’s attitude completely changed and he was very complimentary towards the New Jersey native. Miller defeated Guillard by first round submission after surviving an initial onslaught by “The Young Assassin” that left Miller woozy and not able to remember parts of the fight even after it had ended.
“Miller acknowledged after the fight that I was the only one to have ever rocked him like that,” explained Guillard. “Jim Miller and I will never be the best of friends, but we speak each other and we are very cordial to each other. Miller told me in front of my wife and his wife that I was the first person to have ever given him a concussion.
“I never go into a fight looking to hurt anyone. I just want to go in there and finish the fight as quickly as possible. Miller is one of the more highly respected guys in this sport and he never resorts to talking bad about anyone before or after a fight,” the Ultimate Fighter alumnus concluded.
Fans can catch Guillard-Camoes as part of the undercard on FX this Saturday night. The broadcast begins at 7:00 PM EST.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC