By Jason Kelly, Senior Columnist
Everyone has trials and tribulations they go through that define their life. Fighters embrace a career that creates interesting enough stories as it is, but they also have a life outside of fighting that affects their fighting. Some live a story book life with a “Rocky” ending, while others go through growing pains in and outside the cage. The negative effects of losing high profile fights incorporated with life’s struggles such as drugs, jail, and death, can drastically weigh heavy on a fighters performance.
Melvin Guillard has experienced those types of situations throughout his life, and shortly after the launch of his UFC career those problems were evident.
Guillard entered the UFC via “The Ultimate fighter” reality television show, though his success on the show was nil, Melvin began his UFC career as a future prospect. The New Orleans native opened up on a tear, going 3-1 in his first four fights. Those victories came by way of knock out. The future was looking vivid for Guillard, but before long troubles would arise for the promising Guillard inside, and outside of the Octagon.
“Ultimate Fight Night 9” allowed Guillard to showcase his skills against the man that won the season of TUF that “The Young Assassin” competed on, Joe “Daddy” Stevenson. Stevenson was at the top of the lightweight division at the time, and defeating the season 2 TUF champion would catapult Melvin to the forefront of his weight class. A mere 00:27 seconds into the first round Guillard was tapping out due to Stevenson’s bicep being clutched around his throat in a tight guillotine choke, a tough loss, but losing the fight was only the beginning of the problems Guillard would undergo.
Post fight urinalysis would determine that Melvin Guillard tested positive for benzoylecgonine, a prime chemical found in cocaine, the levels were so high that the drug test results suggested that Guillard had been using the drug immediately prior to his bout with Joe “Daddy". The findings would leave the former Louisiana National Wrestling participant with an eight month suspension from the Nevada State Athletic Commission, yet the predicaments did not end there for Guillard. Four months later, in August of 2007, Melvin would find himself in trouble with the law as he was placed under arrest for a parole violation stemming from a previous drug charge. Guillard then endured court proceedings and athletic commission trials as he awaited his return to the Octagon.
Rich Clementi greeted Guillard in first fight following the suspension. It was a trash talking battle between the two combatants leading up to the fight that ended in a one sided submission win for Clementi during the fight. Back-to-back losses, along with Gullaird’s drama outside of the cage, led people to believe he would be headed back to the minors. Melvin went to a smaller organization and won a fight, however the minor league was short lived, as he was called back to the UFC where he managed two consecutive victories and aligned himself with a top competitor opponent in the UFC lightweight division.
Gulliard’s win streak fixed him up with Nate Diaz at “Ultimate Fight Night 19”. The win streak gave momentum to “The Young Assassin” and he was determined to be triumphant in that fight, but Diaz had other plans. Melvin came out strong in the first round; blasting Nate with hard punches, but when the bell sounded to initiate the second round, Guillard was spent. He came out of his corner flat-footed and unfocused, looking winded and tired. Guillard later admitted that he could not regain his composure between rounds and that he was attempting to get his breathing corrected during the second round. Diaz took it to him and defeated Guillard in the second round with a slick submission.
Melvin himself knew that he needed change, he recognized his potential was not being utilized to its capacity, he knew it was time to mix things up. Guillard felt he had the talent to compete with anyone in his division, but a mental lapse was preventing him from beating the top fighters, and it was then that “The Young Assassin” would make his move from California to New Mexico to train under the champion producing trainer, Greg Jackson. Guillard felt Jackson’s Martial Arts and the fighters that train there regularly could only help his fight game, and more importantly, Jackson himself could increase Melvin’s mental toughness.
Guillard infiltrated Jackson’s facility open-minded with intentions of becoming a great fighter, and it is working thus far. Since his arrival in New Mexico, Melvin is sporting a 3-0 record and he appears to be a more focused, patient fighter who believes in his camp and himself. “The Young Assassin” is currently exploiting his full potential and he finds himself pitted against one of the UFC’s top prospects, Evan Dunham.
The Jackson trained fighter will take on Evan Dunham this Saturday at UFC’s “Fight for the Troops” in the main event. Dunham (11-1) is an Xtreme Couture fighter who has made a lot of noise since his UFC debut, he owns a 4-1 UFC record, and he is considered to be a future star. The three fight win streak, fighting a top tier guy, main event fight, those are all scenarios the Guillard has encountered in the past, but the one thing that is different, is Melvin.
Melvin Guillard has proven he wanted change in his life; he made the sacrifices needed to amount to where he is at. Guillard has never placed the blame from his past issues on anyone but himself, even when he made the move to Jackson’s he noted that his previous coach Saul Soliz was not at fault for his relocation. He never blamed his usage of drugs on his father’s death, he accepted that it was his decision and he took full responsibility when the penalties came.
Melvin takes responsibility for all of his actions, he also takes responsibility for being the person to change his life and career, and those are the reasons he can find success in the cage. If “The Young Assassin” can prevail as the victor Saturday night it will advance his name to the title mix conversation, that is something Guillard may not have been prepared to accomplish in the past, but this not Melvin from the past.