(Photo by Al Bello/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
When I talked to Melvin Guillard's coach Mike Winkeljohn last week, he broke down how he saw the fight with Evan Dunham going. He expected Dunham to be able to drag Melvin to the ground - but was equally confident he wouldn't be able to hold him there. On their feet, Winkeljohn thought Guillard's speed to be the difference. He respected Dunham's skill, but didn't think he would be able to keep up physically.
It's possible Mike Winkeljohn owns a crystal ball.
The fight played out exactly as expected. Guillard survived an early trip to the canvas. In the past being taken down by a submission expert like Dunham might have ended Guillard's night. At the very least he would have panicked, trying too hard to score a knockout when he finally returned to his feet, leaving himself vulnerable and exposed.
That was the old Melvin Guillard. The new Melvin is in a much better place mentally. Physically, he always had the tools. Under Winkeljohn and Greg Jackson's tutelage, Guillard is a much more poised, confident and dangerous fighter. It's taken hundreds of rounds in the gym to find his distance, angles and pacing. He was clearly still putting it all together in a cautious performance against Jeremy Stephens last year, thinking more than reacting.
That was last year. Against Dunham he showed he could fight smartly and aggressively. It wasn't one or the other. He could combine both in a very deadly package. With four wins in a row, Guillard is approaching title contender status. By the time he gets there, whoever is standing across the cage will have a battle on his hands. This is the new Melvin Guillard. Lightweights beware.