“I’m a champion, so I turned tragedy to triumph.” – Kanye West
The full story about Melvin Guillard has yet to be written, but it’s got quite a few chapters in it already.
Born and raised in New Orleans, Guillard has experienced many facets of the world, including literally watching his hometown sink under water during Hurricane Katrina. He’s gone from being a cast member on the second season of “The Ultimate Fighter” all the way to testing positive for cocaine use following a loss to Joe Stevenson in 2007.
It’s the life that Guillard has led that brought him to this point, and he refuses to make excuses for anything he’s ever done. He is, however, ready to capitalize on the work he’s put in to get back to the point he’s at now, fighting Evan Dunham in the main event of UFC Fight for the Troops 2 on Saturday night in Texas.
“I’ve had some struggles in my life that I’ve had to deal with,” Guillard confessed when speaking to MMAWeekly Radio. “With my dad dying, drug use and all that, but I don’t make excuses for anything I’ve ever done. I chose to do those things and I paid the consequences for them, and it’s over and done with. It’s a chapter in my life that I can finally say is over, and I’m happy.”
The struggles that Guillard went through brought him in New Mexico in 2010, where he joined up with Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn and their famed MMA team. Since that time, Guillard has gone undefeated and put himself on the track to title contention.
The work is paying off and Guillard is now on the verge of being a true contender in the UFC’s lightweight division. Still, he doesn’t want anyone to hand him anything. He’s ready to earn it.
“I don’t need anybody to do me any favors. I came from nothing, when I die, I’m going to leave with nothing. I’ve been through the worst,” said Guillard. “I’ve been at the lowest point in my life with Katrina, with the drug use, with losing my dad, all that happened back to back. I think nothing else in this world can drag me to my lowest.”
Guillard now lives happily for the biggest part of the year in New Mexico with his wife, where he trains with a world class team and focuses solely on training. Long gone are the days of partying and getting into trouble. Now a night out for Guillard focuses on a concert or maybe some video games. When he’s training his only goal is to win a fight.
Not only has Guillard grown up over the last few years from a rough and tumble kid that made some bad mistakes, he’s also turned into a dangerously good fighter. A few years ago, Guillard’s biggest weakness would have been considered his ground game. To counter that, he’s now developed his ground skills.
He won’t tell you that he’s ready to start submitting every opponent just yet, but he’s gone the distance with some world class level grapplers and that’s given him the confidence necessary as he goes into a fight with Evan Dunham.
“Beating guys like Ronys Torres and Gleison Tibau, guys like that who are Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belts, it definitely brings up my confidence. I don’t feel no one can tap me unless I give them a reason, or do something crazy. One thing that coach Greg (Jackson) has taught me since I’ve been here is to be patient. Since I’ve been patient and not just jumping around trying to react so quickly to everything, it’s really helped me evolve as a complete fighter,” Guillard commented.
“I have a guy like (Donald) ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone who’s built exactly like Dunham, whose fight style is similar, so I have a teammate that’s in there 24 hours a day with me seven days a week, that’s pushing me, that has the same attack as Dunham. He mimicked Dunham for me perfectly.”
The puzzle that Guillard is out to solve is Dunham’s flawless record. Yes, he technically has a loss to Sean Sherk from his last bout, but even Guillard doesn’t see that fight as a defeat. He sees Dunham as the top dog on the lightweight ladder, and he wants to step over him and get a title shot in 2011.
“I honestly feel that Evan Dunham’s the No. 1 contender right now,” said Guillard. “Gray Maynard had his shot and he didn’t make it, and I think next in line if something crazy, crazy happened and I lost this fight and Evan Dunham won it, I know for a fact they would give him a title shot. So I feel like once I beat him, I feel like I should be deserving of that title shot.”
In 2010, Guillard said he planned on going undefeated and then in 2011 he’d start calling for a title shot. He’s one for one on his predictions so far, and whoever is holding that belt when he gets past Evan Dunham, that’s who he’s gunning for.
“Whether it’s Edgar or Pettis, I don’t care, it could be Ben Henderson. I’m the best fighter in my weight class. I’m that confident in saying that,” Guillard stated. “Nobody at 155 can beat Melvin Guillard, and if they do beat me it’s because they got lucky.
“If you really look back on the losses I’ve had in the UFC, I’ve lost because I made a mistake and I gave the fight away. I was never one time in danger of getting my butt smashed or just getting my head beat in. I’m not that guy. I’m the guy that always dishes out the ass whoopings.”
He’ll try to serve up one more on Jan. 22 when he faces Evan Dunham in the main event of UFC Fight for the Troops 2 in Fort Hood, Texas.