After defeating Gleison Tibau by second round knockout at UFC 168, Michael Johnson lobbied for fights against No. 5 ranked lightweight Nate Diaz and No. 7 ranked Khabib Nurmagomedov. Those requests were denied, and instead of facing a top 10 opponent in his next outing, Johnson will face a UFC veteran who is currently unranked in the UFC's 155-pound division, Melvin Guillard.
Johnson's win over Tibau gave him two consecutive victories and advanced his professional record to 14-8. Guillard (31-12-2-2) is 1-2-0-1 in last four UFC fights, with his most recent outing being a no contest against Ross Pearson. That fight ended in the first round when an accidental illegal knee from Guillard left Pearson unable to continue.
Guillard and Pearson were booked to meet again at UFC Fight Night 37, but a knee injury knocked Pearson from the bout, and the UFC gave Johnson the call to step in as a replacement.
Despite Guillard's unranked status, Johnson is expecting a tough bout, speaking to MMAJunkie Radio, Johnson said, "Melvin's still dangerous, he's still one of the best guys in the division. He's been around for a while, and it's just another fight that interests me. To tell you the truth, this is a more of a tricky and more of a dangerous fight than Khabib. Khabib doesn't have knockout power, and Melvin does."
Guillard's 20 career knockout victories back up Johnson's statement. Nurmagomedov has seven knockout wins on his resume.
Another reason Johnson expects a tough fight from his UFC Fight Night 37 opponent is due to where Guillard currently stands in the lightweight rankings, "I would think he wants it a little more, he's a little more hungry. He's trying to get back to where he was not too long ago, and now he's got to go through me to get to that."
An added wrinkle to this contest is that the two fighters were once teammates with the Blackzilians. Guillard left the team in early 2013 and is currently training with American Top Team after an aborted attempt to rejoin Jackson's MMA and a short stint at Grudge Training Center.
Johnson said that two never got along while they were teammates, a fact that Guillard seemed to confirm when he tweeted:
As for Johnson lets get it. Its more fun when you don't like someone. So ill be the first to put it out there. I say what others are afraid— Melvin Guillard (@Young__Assassin) January 23, 2014
Johnson was asked about the differences the two had. His response, "I let Melvin run his mouth. He's crazy in the head, something's wrong with him. He sees things that really don't happen, but that's fine. He can say he doesn't like me.
We never really got along; we weren't the best of friends, but on the team I was always there to help him any time he wanted, and he just said he doesn't like me, but when he was on the team I did nothing but support him and try and help him succeed. Now, he's off the team, and we have to fight and he can run his mouth all he wants to, but once the cage closes, no more talking after that."
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