Beyond the Fight: Guillard vs. Miller
Melvin Guillard and Jim Miller collide on Friday in Nashville, Tenn., in the UFC on FX 1 headliner. It will be a battle of two top-shelf lightweight contenders, but it will also be a matchup of two 28-year-olds who have starkly different, yet, in some ways, similar outlooks on life, family and mixed martial arts.
Guillard and Miller were guests this month on the “Sunday Sitdown” segment on the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Rewind” program. In the long-form talks, the natives of New Orleans and New Jersey discussed who they are and where they come from.
A sampling of their thoughts ahead of their main event:
‘They just taught us to appreciate everything.’
“All the neighbors, everybody knew everybody. It was one of those types of neighborhoods where the neighbors see you doing something wrong and they had permission to spank you. And then you get home, and you get another spanking. But, you know, with every good neighborhood, there came the drugs, the prostitution and stuff like that on the corner … My parents, they worked hard, but when you have five brothers and two sisters growing up -- three were adopted -- it’s kind of hard. Really, my parents, they just taught us to appreciate everything.
“My dad was a self-contractor, my family [has] a family contracting business. I used to work for my dad for pennies. I felt like a little slave, man, building five-star homes from the ground up, him and my uncles. It was passed down from my grandfather, for generations.
“My first vehicle, at the age of 17 or 18, was my dad’s old Comanche Jeep truck. It had no engine in it. I actually paid my dad 400 bucks for the truck. He never gave me anything, but he taught me a life lesson: that nothing’s given to you in life. You have to go and get, you have to work hard and you have to sometimes go out and take what you want, but not in a bad way; you’ve got to go and work for it to take it. That’s the way I live my life now, and that’s the way I fight.”
‘My parents worked their asses off to support us.’
“I had a pretty easy childhood. I’m the third of four children, two older brothers and a younger sister. Grew up middle class; my parents worked their asses off to support us. My mother is a nurse and my father worked construction, framing houses and stuff like that. Both of them worked so hard and still made time to come to wrestling matches and football games and baseball games and go to my sister’s cheerleading and stuff like that. They deserve so much credit that they don’t get for raising me and my siblings. They got two professional fighters, a vet and a brilliant, brilliant young girl who wanted to be a social worker; that’s what she deiced to do.
“My parents still, to this day ... they come to basically every UFC. My dad has missed two, one because he had surgery three days before my fight and he wasn’t allowed to fly. And he missed [my brother] Dan’s fight in Brazil. My mom, my mom missed my fight in England, and she might not have missed any other ones than that.”
‘He was kind of cartoonish when we were kids.’
“He used to get fired up at wrestling matches when refs would make bad calls and stuff like that. He was that dad, you know, [shouting], ‘Ref! How can you suck and blow at the same time?’ The funny thing was, though, he would get upset whenever we were wrestling, but if the ref was, like, seriously still making bad calls when somebody else was wrestling, when it wasn’t event one of our teammates, he would get even more mad and let it out even more. I think it was him letting it out because he didn’t want to come across as such a big a--hole when we were wrestling.
“He was kind of cartoonish when we were kids … I’ve seen him take hits that would probably kill most men. Thankfully, I got some of his hard head. I don’t know if I got the whole thing, though, because there has been some situations where you think he might be dead and he’s fine, doesn’t get a concussion. You know, he’s swearing about something else -- he stubbed his toe on the way down.
“I’ve got the three rules of being a father I tell my wife all the time when she asks me to shave my mustache. I say, ‘My father always had a mustache.’ My father always drove a big, big truck, so I drive a big truck. And my father could always beat up all the other dads at school, and I sure hope that I can do that, since Dan’s kids will go to different schools. So those are my three rules. I try to live up to those.”
‘My dad was my best friend, man.’
“My dad was my biggest fan. He never missed a fight. He would get drunk and just be in the crowd. There’s one night I’m fighting and these guys were, like, ‘Kick his butt! Kick his butt,’ using other words, while my dad was, like, ‘Kick his butt son. Kick his butt. F him up!’ These guys look at my dad and were, like, ‘Get your [ass] down!’ and blah, blah, blah, and they just start going off on my dad. Dude, I stopped in the middle of the fight and I climbed out of the ring and I walk up to this guy and I’m, like, ‘If you talk to my dad like that again, I’ll beat you down right where you stand.’ And the guy was, like, ‘Oh my God, that’s your dad?’ And then they became my dad’s biggest fans; they started buying my dad more drinks.
“My dad was my best friend, man. We hung out together all the time. He never missed a fight. And the saddest part was, in ’05, when I went on the ‘The Ultimate Fighter,’ [Hurricane] Katrina hit two weeks later. So my dad, being a contractor, he had a lot of work; he was backed up, so he never made it to see me fight Marcus [Davis]. And, in ’06, he ended up dying before he could ever watch me fight in the UFC.
“He died from cirrhosis of the liver from alcohol … When he didn’t drink, he was in pain. He kind of drank himself to where the drinking numbed the pain. I had to watch my dad literally kill himself for a year and a half.
“I knew he was killing himself, and he knew it, but we got to be best friends again before he died, and that was one of the turning pints in my life. The one thing I remember him asking me was: always take care of your mom and your sister, help your brother, but we were soldiers, and they [are] going to be able to fend for themselves, but if they need you, you be there. And that’s the way I live now. I just always want to be there for my family.”
Continue Reading » The Game
‘I think of myself as an Achilles’
“When it comes to competition, I’m fearless. I’m not afraid to get into the cage with anybody, and I think everybody knows that by now. I’m not afraid to die in the ring. That’s my attitude; that’s my mentality. And I think of it, like, if you ever watch the movie ‘Troy’ and you remember Brad Pitt, he played Achilles. I think of myself as an Achilles. The only difference is, I wake up the morning and instead of, like, a bed full of women, I got my wife and my two dogs -- soon to be three -- that’s in the bed, and I feel like a king. That’s my attitude. I feel like, if I was back in the Roman days, I would be that assassin that they would use to go and take out the big giant.
“I don’t take anything for granted because I know one day you can be in the UFC and this sport and the next day you can be cut and lose your job, or even worse you can have a life–threatening injury and never fight again … I try to wake up happy every day and have goals that’s not too outrageous to meet. I like to set small goals and meet them, so I can get to those bigger goals.
“All those people [who are] bandwagoners: they’re against you when you’re losing. When you’re on top, you’re like the best person in the world to them; I [despise] people like that, because those are people that, probably, if the world was kind of at the end, let’s say Armageddon happened -- those would be the first people that would die off, because they would be the weak; they wouldn’t be able to survive … I just feel there’s no room on earth for the weak.”
‘I love fighting.’
“You’re fighting at that moment in time. There’s so many different ways a fight can end and a fight can go. And you really only have one opportunity, and, typically, it’s whoever gains that momentum first. [Just] because a fight ends one way once doesn’t mean it will ever end that way again, if it happened again. I take my wins like that, knowing that I took advantage of my opponents that night, that I made things work for me.
“I love fighting. I got into fighting because I enjoy it, and I fight for myself. That’s really what it is about. I fight because I can provide for my family doing this, but I don’t need to do it for them. If I had to give up fighting, I could give up fighting in a heartbeat for my family. For me, it puts it in perspective. This is ... it is just a job.
“I’m not the type that I want to be remembered. It doesn’t really keep me awake at night, it doesn’t bother me. I think if people think about me [I want them to think] ‘The guy always fought as hard as he could.’ I’d be happy with that. I’d like to be champion and all that stuff, but, yeah, just fought as hard as he could.”
Finish Reading » Scary Moments
‘You don’t want to have just one plan.’
“The big thing that scares me would be an inability to protect my family if they needed it. That’s really the only thing that scares me. That’s one reason why I started fighting -- is because I wanted to learn to defend myself because I would never be able to … I don’t know how I’d live with myself if I allowed anything to ever happen to my family.
“As a kid, early teens and stuff like that, both of my older brothers, they had moved from eighth grade into the high school. So I had both my brothers [in high school] when, like, the school shootings happened, like, Columbine and stuff like that … My initial thought is, ‘Well, I could hide. If something happened, I could hide.’ I’ve always run through these types of scenarios and stuff like that in my head, even when I was little. But, then, what always got me was … say I do hide and I hide in the closet or something like that. Then, as I’m leaving, I see one of my brothers, you know, on the ground. That scares you, that chokes me up right now, that ... I would not be able to handle that. I made the decision pretty early that if I ever got in a type of situation like that, where I needed to react quickly, that I’d rather go down swinging. So I figured I better learn how to fight and up my chances of at least hopefully surviving.
“I knew early, early on that people don’t react to pressure well, even in fighting. Anybody can go and hit the pads and look sharp, but as soon as you start throwing punches back at them, their technique opens up. And same thing with anything, including these situations where somebody is shooting or something like that. They’re basically relying on people to comply. So I’m always thinking, like, well, get after them; throw a chair at them. I’m always looking for the nearest weapon or tool or cover or something like that.
“You know, things happen, man. You’ve got to have at least an idea of how you might approach the situation. You don’t want to have just one plan. You’ve got to have many plans, ’cause stuff’s going to change.”
‘It still haunts me to this day.’
“When Katrina happened, I seen some of [the] biggest, baddest drug dealers -- some of them probably were killers -- and they were scared. I seen grown men crying, like they were terrified. And I’m, like, look at this s--- here. That’s the stuff I saw. And I’m, like, how can they call themselves men?
“I was trapped on a bridge actually for six days and seven nights. I rescued three older people, in particular, and I watched three older people die because they didn’t get insulin dropped to them.
“People have that stigma about black people can’t swim. That was a true statement on that bridge, man. I seen hundreds and thousands of black people that could not swim, even law enforcement. I was one of the only ... maybe me and three other guys were actually good swimmers and swam and had little floating devices that we could bring stuff back. For me, at that point, my mind went from, like, a natural disaster to it’s, like, my dad taking me camping and I’m out her living, camping.
“The sad part was, when the ignorance kicked in, I would have to step in and be a little aggressive. I would come back with food, but the small group that I was with, we had two infant babies. I was, like, I’m going to help our group first and whatever I have left I can disperse to everyone else. People were so ignorant they started to come over towards us like they’re going to take stuff from me. I was like, dude, hold on. I just told them straight up: if you take this from me, I promise I’m going to throw you in the water and watch you drown. I had to lay the law down really quick. People were stressing, people were panicking and I was one of the only calm people on that bridge that kept everybody calm.
“I just use it to make me stronger. A lot of people, they see my attitude show in fights ... People don’t know where I come from; they don’t know what I really saw. I woke up one morning on a bridge and saw an infant baby floating in the water because girls were panicking and someone actually threw their baby away. The infant baby was floating beneath my feet under the bridge. It still haunts me to do this day.”
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