After a second round knockout of Mac Danzig in July broke a two-fight losing streak and added a Knockout of the Night bonus check to his bank account, Melvin Guillard quietly calls it “a good start.”
It’s one of many we’ve seen from “The Young Assassin” over the years, and he hopes that this latest new beginning will be the one that sticks. And the way he sees it, making that happen comes down to what he does in his head, not with his fists.
“I guess things are a lot different when you feel like you’re fighting for your job, and I want to keep that same mentality,” he said. “Every fight, you’ve got to feel like you’re fighting for your job because you can win one, lose one, and be out of the UFC.”
Returning to the Octagon this Saturday for a UFC Fight Night co-main event bout against Ross Pearson, Guillard hopes to begin his first winning streak since he put together a 5-0 run in 2010-11 that had people talking about a title shot for the Louisiana native. But a UFC 136 loss to Joe Lauzon kicked off a 1-4 stretch that put a screeching halt to those talks. Add in moves from the Jackson MMA camp to the Blackzilians to the Grudge Training Center and now to American Top Team, and it’s been quite a ride.
“It didn’t work out like I thought it would,” said Guillard of his one-fight stint with Grudge in Colorado. “American Top Team is right around the corner from my house. I’ve been living here (in Florida) for four years and they’ve always been right around the corner. I didn’t want to have to go travel far at the last minute, and the most convenient thing was to go with them, and it ended up being really good. It’s a great camp, and all the guys and coaches are great.”
So is this finally home?
“Yeah, pretty much,” he said. “I can sleep in my own bed, I don’t have to worry about paying rent to go somewhere else, so it worked itself out pretty good. My whole career I had to go somewhere and train, and after a while you just get tired of that. You’re spending so much time away from home that I just got to the point where I was like, you know what, I have a chance to train and be home, be around my wife, and I’m going to do it. I got tired of having to travel.”
With that settled, the next step is regaining the consistency he showed during his previous win streak. Are we about to see that from him? He hesitates before giving an honest assessment of how he sees that topic.
“I don’t know,” said Guillard. “It’s basically how you feel on the night of the fight, and having the right people around you and stuff like that. And it doesn’t just start on the night of the fight. You’ve gotta have a good camp, a good group of guys, good coaches, and everything like that. I feel I have that now, I feel confident going into this fight against Ross Pearson. I do feel I’m the better fighter and I’m the better striker, so we’ll see.”
When Guillard is on, like he was against Danzig, he’s scary. And on paper, the 30-year-old should have the speed and power advantages against Pearson on Saturday night. But if he loses, we will once again see the naysayers out in full force, which wouldn’t normally be an inaccurate assessment. But when you see flip-flopping in epic proportion based on the results of Guillard’s fights, it isn’t always the fairest read on the lightweight standout, who does see what’s being written about him.
“I pay attention to it all the time,” he laughs. “It doesn’t really bother me; that’s just the way a lot of people are. I kind of expect it. When things don’t go right, you expect people to let you down, and that’s just the way I look at a lot of people in life.”
As long as they’re talking, right?
“They all have something to talk about, so whether it’s good or bad, at least I’m in the media in some kind of way. It’s better than being forgotten about.”
Being forgotten is probably not in the cards for Guillard, case in point being this weekend’s fight. Despite fighting a Brit in England, he is likely to have plenty of support across the pond on fight night.
“I have a big fan base over there and for years they’ve been asking me ‘when are you gonna fight over here in England?’” he said. “You know how most places you go, you feel like you’re going to be in a hostile environment? I don’t feel like I’m going to be in a hostile environment in England. I think they’re going to welcome me with open arms. He’s still going to be the hometown guy, but I don’t think it’s going to be a harsh crowd. I’m going to have my share of fans that will be there to support me as well.”
And that fan base is likely to grow with a win. As for the other benefits of notching another victory, Guillard hopes it will earn him another fight before 2013 closes.
“I really want to end this year by winning this fight and hopefully fighting December 28th,” he said of the UFC 168 card in Las Vegas. “I really want to fight on that card. So I’m hoping I can get a spectacular victory against Pearson and have the leverage to ask for that fight. I want to win these fights impressively so that they allow me to be able to pick when I fight instead of having to sit around and wait for a call.”
Melvin Guillard Begins Again
"I feel confident going into this fight against Ross Pearson. I do feel I’m the better fighter and I’m the better striker, so we’ll see." - Melvin Guillard