The UFC lightweight division is one of the most competitive weight classes in all of combat sports. Never before has there been such a mix of competitors vying for a title.
Of course, Frankie Edgar is the current champ, but he’s due for a third clash with Gray Maynard in October at UFC 136, and there’s no telling which way that match-up will go.
Beyond Edgar and Maynard, you talk about fighters like Ben Henderson, Clay Guida, and Melvin Guillard. While each fighter has their own opinion as to who they feel the No. 1 contender to the lightweight title should be, Guillard feels he’s already in the spot, regardless of who he’s scheduled to face next.
Guillard is destined to fight with Joe Lauzon at UFC 136, which takes place in Houston on Oct. 8. The bout was accepted by Guillard because he’s not one to wait around for a call about a title shot. So, even though he sees himself as the No.1 contender, he’ll get his scraps in while the lightweight title picture comes more into focus.
“I feel I am the No. 1 contender, right now,” Guillard told MMAWeekly Radio Weekend Edition. “Rightfully, at first, I felt Jim Miller would have got the spot because he had a bigger win-streak. I think, right now, technically, I have the (longest) win-streak of the lightweights, now. (Miller’s recent loss), kind of, just moved me into position to be the No. 1 contender.
“I’m still not going to sit around and wait on a title shot. I’m going to continue to keep progressing, keep moving forward, and keep fighting.”
And moving forward is exactly what he’s doing.
Against Lauzon, Guiillard faces a tough challenge from a tough guy. Lauzon, who is well-schooled in the ground game, has a long list of submission victories to his credit, finishing 16 of his 20 wins by way of tapout.
Guillard has a history of getting caught in dangerous positions that lead to submission loses. Seven of Guillard’s eight losses have come by way of submission, so the threat of Lauzon’s ground game becomes that much more apparent.
But if you ask Guillard about that threat, he dusts his shoulders off and explains that he worries not about what his opponent has in store. The lightweight presents his own dangers to Lauzon and sees himself turning on the afterburners before his opponent gets a chance to leap off the runway.
Some may call it “cocky,” Melvin calls it “confidence.”
“I’m a dangerous fighter,” Guillard explained. “I’m not going in there worried about what (Joe Lauzon’s) strengths are and what I think he can do to me. It’s not about that; it’s about me going in and executing my game-plan and getting off first. I’ve noticed I’ve had success in the past by being the first one to pull the trigger, and then after that, guys are getting gun-shy or guys are just going to sleep.
“I’m not being cocky about it or anything like that, but I have confidence right now, and it’s my time. I know (I’m going to) be a world champion in the next couple of months. Right now, that’s my focus.”
Fighting Lauzon makes a whole lot of sense for the “Young Assassin,” especially since it takes place in Houston. The lightweight fancies the Texas city as a second home and he looks forward to getting a chance to perform in front of his friends and family.
Guillard finds it especially great that Lauzon stepped up to face him in the Lone Star State, which pretty much guarantees there to be a great fight come Oct. 8.
“I picked this fight for a lot of reasons,” Guillard explained. “This kid is good. I didn’t want to wait for the Jim Miller fight, which, that fight doesn’t make any sense anymore.
“I wanted to make sure I could fight in front of my second home crowd, which is Houston.”
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