How fast fortunes change in the UFC. You need look no further than Friday night’s UFC on FX1 event that went down in Nashville, TN featuring a main event in the lightweight division between Jim Miller and Melvin Guillard. It was billed as a bit of a battle of redemption, as both were top contenders until they recently dropped a fight. Miller took the fight in the first round when after absorbing some strikes, he was able to take Guillard’s back and finish with the rear naked choke. The win puts Miller back into the elite contenders at 155 lbs. What does the loss do to the once ‘Young Assassin’?
Guillard is a difficult call to make. He has a lot of appeal as an aggressive, physical striker who comes to take his opponent’s head off. Guillard says all the right things about ‘hard work’ and ‘motivation’ and he’s recently started training with preparation guru Greg Jackson. He is in freakishly good shape and he says he is hungry to be called the very best.
Guillard approaching 30 is not the same as he was when he started his MMA career with 11 wins in a row. Back then, Guillard would tell you he was the best. He got choked out a few times, and it took him a while to grow into the athlete you see today. Frankly, he had a reputation as a bit of a headcase, and of being too arrogant to learn.
Miller looked confident in what he does. After all, he took Ben Henderson the full 15 minute length of the fight before dropping a Unanimous Decision in his last fight out. Henderson is now in the title shot, and Miller has to be looking to step his game up. He showed guts in absorbing some punishment early, and he finished at the first chance he got.
For all Guillard has changed in a career that now spans 9 years and 40 fights, he is still woeful on the ground. What bothers me most is that once he is put in a bad position, the fight seems to come out of him – he rarely works thru trouble. Of the 10 losses he has in MMA, an astounding 9 of them are by submission.
To me, Guillard needs to spend a few fights in the small circuit shows. And he needs to really train on the ground. Train what you can incorporate into your style, that is, resisting and getting back up and basic defenses to stay out of submissions. Granted, Lauzon and Miller are solid submission guys, but Guillard continues to show the same Achilles heel. Time for Melvin to train his weakness instead of focusing on his strengths.
We will likely see Guillard again, due to his general appeal, but I question whether he deserves another chance without a commitment to improve.