Melvin Guillard has been an enigma of the lightweight division for many years. He has shown flashes of brilliance but his entire UFC career has been marred by head-scratching losses and horrendous mental mistakes that have cost him fights. Last night's dramatic KO loss at the hands of Donald Cerrone is the latest chapter in a dictionary-sized book of disappointingly predictable defeats for the 29-year-old. And quite frankly, it's no longer surprising.
I don't want to come off as a complete braggart, but I knew as soon as Guillard couldn't finish a clearly hurt Cerrone that he was going to lose (I certainly didn't expect the KO, however). It almost seems like the longer that Melvin has to actually think, the higher the likelihood he's going to find an absurd way to turn the tables against himself. After 44 professional matches (or somewhere near 60 if you go by the UFC stats) it is quite clear that Guillard doesn't learn from his mistakes at all, and it's prevented him from reaching the top of lightweight division.
Guillard essentially loses in two ways: A quick submission or a dominant beginning followed up by a fatal mistake that sees him in the loss column again. If you need a quick reminder, here's a quick timeline of Guillard's UFC losses:
- Loss #1. A complete domination against Josh Neer for over 4 minutes, only for Neer to throw up a desperation triangle choke and Guillard never defended.
- Loss #2. Recklessly strikes with Joe Stevenson, gets staggered by a jab before Stevenson locks in a guillotine choke seconds later in a scramble. Guillard taps within 3 seconds.
- Loss #3. After a relatively ho-hum opening few minutes against Rich Clementi, Clementi is able to get the fight to the ground, take Guillard's back, and choke him out.
- Loss #4. Guillard dropped Nate Diaz with the very first punch of the fight, and easily won the first round. Midway through the 2nd round Guillard inexplicably goes for a takedown and literally dives head-first into a guillotine choke.
- Loss #5. With a 5 fight win streak and a huge win over Evan Dunham, he was the heavy favorite against Joe Lauzon. Just when it looked like Guillard had turned the corner and patched the holes in his game, he was wobbled with a left hand from Lauzon and J-Lau submitted Melvin in less than a minute.
- Loss #6. Guillard kept Jim Miller at bay with powerful kicks, but rode his luck for too long and for absolutely zero reason tried a flying knee, Miller avoided the worst damage and dominated on the ground. Another fight, another rear-naked choke.
- Loss #7. Guillard dropped Donald Cerrone, becoming the first man to do so in the UFC, but lost his composure and couldn't land the final KO blow. Instead, Guillard was rocked by a Cerrone head kick to the temple, and then Cerrone knocks out Guillard with a right hand, in what is officially the shortest fight (76 seconds) to ever win a UFC Fight of the Night bonus.
If you're keeping score, that is 6 submissions and a KO, 4 fights fully within his grasp only to throw it away, 2 where he was immediately rocked by a punch, and then the Clementi fight.
The prevailing reasoning for Guillard being a LW contender was his youth (he's only 29), his powerful striking, and his natural athletic ability. If he could just shore up his submission defense and mental game he would be a force. Well it turns out not only is his mental game still practically useless, but his skills are significantly overrated. For as much as his submission defense is lacking, Guillard's striking defense and chin are evidently not very good. Stevenson, Lauzon, and Cerrone were all able to hurt him easily, but Cerrone of all people was finally the man to shut his lights off. The Guillard we saw last night is essentially the same Melvin Guillard who lost to Josh Neer. Any thoughts of "Guillard 2.0" from his 2010-11 winning streak have been emphatically shut off.
I'm going to be politically incorrect here, Guillard, strictly from a fight IQ perspective, might just be one of the dumbest fighters in the history of the UFC, if not the dumbest. No other man has given away so many fights as The Young Assassin. If you cannot learn from your past mistakes after over a half-dozen instances of identical outcomes, then you cannot possibly be thinking properly. Guillard has fought professionally for a decade, and if he can't learn now, then he never will, and he'll be remembered as a fighter who had first-rate athleticism but second-rate skills and third-rate mental abilities.
Here's a little fact about Guillard, he is now 1-3 in his last 4 fights. And he's lost badly all three times and all in the first round. As of last night, Guillard permanently removed himself from any talk of title contention in the UFC. There should be no more mulligans for him. Believe it or not, he was cut from the UFC before. After testing positive for cocaine in the Stevenson fight, Guillard followed that up by trying to attack Rich Clementi after Guillard tapped out, but Herb Dean prevented their bitter feud from escalating. Now he's added "missing weight" to his collection of blunders both inside and outside the cage. If Guillard loses his next fight, he very well may be facing another release, and he'll only have himself to blame for never evolving as a fighter.