Covering Melvin Guillard over the past five years has never been dull. In and out of the Octagon, “The Young Assassin” has survived a rollercoaster ride that would have crippled lesser men. But he’s still standing, still fighting, and headlining January 22nd’s Fight for The Troops 2 card in Texas against Evan Dunham. But before we look back at how Guillard got here, here’s a quote from 2006 which captured how the Louisiana native was looking at his fight career.
“I have the attitude that I’ll fight anybody because when I’m old or I’m gone, I want to be remembered as the Muhammad Ali of MMA,” said Guillard. “I want to be known as a legend, I want to be on the wall of the UFC Training Center. That’s my goal now. I want people to say, ‘Man, that kid was a damn good fighter. He left it all in the ring and fought with heart and determination.’ It’s not about the money to me. Yes, I want to make a living doing this and I want to become rich being a fighter, but I’m not fighting for the money. I want to be remembered in the ages. That’s my biggest thing.”
Josh Neer - UFC Fight Night - January 16, 2006
Result – Neer Wsub1
A veteran of the local circuit, Guillard got introduced to the world through season two of The Ultimate Fighter in 2005, and after living through Hurricane Katrina, he made his post-TUF UFC debut at welterweight against hard-nosed Iowan Josh Neer. Guillard was impressive, dominating the action and cutting Neer. It appeared that the fight was about to be stopped when Guillard surprised everyone by taking Neer down. Moments later, Neer pulled off the miracle comeback, submitting Guillard via triangle choke.
“I only took Neer down to try and work that cut some more so that they would stop it,” said Guillard after the bout. “Had I known that (that the doctor probably would have stopped it between rounds), I would have just stayed on my feet and just kept swinging for another minute and a half. He couldn’t hurt me.”
“I was upset, but I wasn’t confused about the loss because I know, being a fighter, that the fight’s not over till it’s over,” he continued. “I’ve seen guys get the crap beat out of ‘em for ten minutes of a fight, and then in the last five minutes they pull a rabbit out of their hat. That’s the nature of this business; it’s a chess match.”
Rick Davis – UFC 60 – May 27, 2006
Result – Guillard KO1
Four months after the Neer bout, Guillard was pitted against unbeaten Rick Davis in the UFC 60 opener. This one wasn’t even close, as Guillard – back to his natural fighting weight of 155 - drilled Davis with everything but the ring stool. A left hand put Davis down for the first time 1:20 into the round, and seconds later a right hand sent his down face first, ending the bout at the 1:37 mark. The win made an immediate statement that if you wanted to throw hands with Guillard, you did so at your own peril. Davis never fought professionally again.
Joe Stevenson – UFC Fight Night – April 5, 2007
Result – Stevenson Wsub1
The win over Davis and a subsequent body punch knockout of Gabe Ruediger four months later got the buzz going pretty heavy on Guillard, and in response, the UFC put him in a UFC Fight Night main event against his Ultimate Fighter castmate Joe Stevenson. The bout barely got started when Stevenson rocked Guillard, took him down and submitted him. 27 seconds was all it took. What was worse that Guillard, already dealing with the death of his father, tested positive for cocaine after the bout and was suspended.
“After getting suspended I hit rock bottom even harder,” said Guillard of life after the Stevenson fight. “I was in a bigger depression and I was mad at myself, but I was even more upset because I felt like I had embarrassed my family. I didn’t care what people thought about me, and I’m still like that – I don’t care about the negative talk. I get on the internet and I see all the slander – they made a little video clip and I laughed it off, but on the inside it hurt because I hurt my fans, I embarrassed my family, and I embarrassed the UFC. And of all the people, I never thought it would have been me to embarrass the UFC. The sport has enough negativity towards it, and we’ve got to be good role models for the sport. So I took all that negativity and turned it around.”
Guillard would still take some time to dig out of the mess he had gotten himself into, but in an ironic twist, a couple years later he would became a teammate of Stevenson in the Greg Jackson camp in Albuquerque, and it was “Joe Daddy” who helped him close the holes in his submission game.
Rich Clementi – Lsub1 – UFC 79 – December 29, 2007
Result – Clementi Wsub1
“I’ll never squash it. I tried to squash it before with Rich. I have no more room for squashing anything with him.”
There have been bad blood grudge matches in the UFC before, but none had such venom attached to it as the UFC 79 bout between Guillard and veteran Rich Clementi. It was so bad that you actually wondered whether the fight was going to break out even before the bell rang officially on Saturday night. Thankfully, the two kept things in check until fight night, but when things got going, Clementi showed a veteran’s poise and Guillard let emotions get the best of him. It’s not what he expected to happen.
“My emotions flying in this fight will work to my advantage,” he said before the fight. “My mom will be there again, I’ll have my family with me, and of course my dad will be there with me in spirit in the ring with me, so I’ve got a lot of positive energy going into this fight.”
Clementi finished Guillard via rear naked choke 4:40 into the first round, and Guillard’s star was falling fast.
Dennis Siver – KO1 – UFC 86 – July 5, 2008
Result – Guillard KO1
Three months after the loss to Clementi, Guillard scored a three round decision win over Eric Regan in a non-UFC bout. Four months after that, he was confident and back in the Octagon to face tough German fighter Dennis Siver. Guillard was too fast and hit too hard for Siver, and in just 36 seconds he was back in the UFC win column and back on the radar as a fighter to watch in the lightweight division.
Gleison Tibau – W3 – TUF9 Finale – June 20, 2009
Result – Guillard W3
It won’t go down as Guillard’s most exciting win or even most impressive, but his three round split decision victory over Gleison Tibau may be judged as his most important. Sure, Guillard would win a shootout on the feet more often than not, but everyone and their brother knew that if you could get him to the mat and work your submission game, this was his Achilles heel. But not on this night, as he befuddled the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, showed off his underrated wrestling game, and gutted out a tough win against a tough opponent. Yes, he would get submitted in his next bout against Nate Diaz thanks to a rookie mistake in the second round, but in the Tibau fight, he made it clear that those mistakes would be few and far between in the coming months and years.
Jeremy Stephens – W3 – UFC 119 – September 25, 2010
Result – Guillard W3
Now a member of the Greg Jackson camp in Albuquerque, Guillard bounced back from the loss to Diaz with victories over Ronys Torres and Waylon Lowe. In Jeremy Stephens, he was going to face a fighter who was willing to stand and trade with him until someone fell down. It made this UFC 119 bout the early favorite for Fight of the Night, but when the two got down to business, it was Guillard throwing a wrench into the works by using counters, movement, and quick kicks to keep Stephens off-balance throughout the three rounder. When it was over, the disciplined Guillard had another victory – this one via split decision – and the lightweight division had another contender. At long last.
Melvin Guillard - Seven Defining Moments
Covering Melvin Guillard over the past five years has never been dull. In and out of the Octagon, “The Young Assassin” has survived a rollercoaster ride that would have crippled lesser men.