Saturday night's UFC 150 card is going to be a great affair, filled with interesting match-ups. I'm positive of this. Why? Two reasons: I'm still riding the residual endorphins from UFC On Fox 4 and I get to see two former teammates duke it out.
Any time fighters that once trained together step in the cage, it's always an automatic pique of my interest. When you're educated in all your opponents' moves, when you know their tells and have some insight of the reactionary phase once the bell rings and punches are exchanged, you immediately have an edge. I'm actually looking more forward to Donald Cerrone vs. Melvin Guillard than I am to the main event. In a recent TapouT Radio interview, Melvin Guillard discusses his upcoming bout with Cowboy, and how he's not a fan of changing weight classes in pursuit of a title.
*Note: Interviewer is either my co-host, Evan Shoman of TapouT Radio, or myself. When I don't conduct these interviews by myself, I just put "Interviewer" to eliminate having to bounce back and forth between three different names.
Interviewer: How has being former teammates affected your training camp for this fight, if at all?
Melvin Guillard: We'll always have similarities, but my fighting style is completely different from when I was at Jackson's, and I'm expecting his to be different, too. We haven't sparred with each other in over a year, so I'm not expecting it to be the same Donald Cerrone. I'm expecting the best Donald Cerrone because I'm fighting in his home town. He begged to be put on this card, but other guys in the division wouldn't step up to fight him. I guess I was the only one willing to do that. I can't be naive and think he'll be the same fighter from last year, because I know I'm not the same fighter.
Interviewer: There's no personal feelings or beef in this fight, correct?
Melvin Guillard: There's no beef, whatsoever. We've both talked about it, and it's just business. We're going in there to have fun and possibly take fight of the night. They say styles make fights, and with our styles being similar, it's going to be a pretty exciting fight. You don't have to have beef to go in and fight hard. You don't have to have animosity to make it a good fight. We know what's on the line. We know that one of us will move forward, and one of us will move back. I'm tired of all these small setbacks. I get to where I'm beating the average guys, but I'm having trouble with some of the elite guys. I want to break that stigma. I want to bust through that wall and get past that against Donald. He's a top contender in my book, and a win over him could definitely start putting me back in the mix for title contention.
Interviewer: He knows the power and speed you carry, so do you think he'll immediately try to get this to the ground to stay away from your hands?
Melvin Guillard: It could go that way. It's an MMA fight, not a kickboxing match, so I'm expecting this fight to take place anywhere. It's my job to try to control where the fight goes. I'm not afraid to take him down because I'm confident in my ground game. After my last fight, I got right back to training and working on my jiu jitsu even more, so I'm definitely ok wherever the fight goes.
Interviewer: Your wrestling has always been one of your strong points. When the two of you trained together, was he able to get you down, and do you think his takedowns will be a big factor in this fight?
Melvin Guillard: I train a lot different than when I fight. The reason why I don't really sustain any training injuries is because I don't care if guys get a takedown in the gym. I don't care if guys are beating me in the standup in the gym. I don't get paid to fight in the gym. I'm not worried about his takedowns, because when it's on the line, and everything counts, it's not going to be that easy for him to just take me down. Not to mention, I'm a brown belt in judo, so I'm not worried about too much in this fight.
Interviewer: Do you get the feeling that with a win, you might get next guy in line for a number one contender's spot?
Melvin Guillard: No, I doubt that. I've heard that it might be Diaz. At this point, it doesn't matter if I'm next. The important thing is that I win this fight I have ahead of me on Saturday. If I lose this fight, I'll be left in the dust. I have to win this before I can even think about title talk. Right now, I don't even think it's about racking up five fight win streaks anymore, because everybody is beating everybody. It's all about picking the right fights to position yourself for that title shot.
Interviewer: How has it been, working with Mario Sperry?
Melvin Guillard: It's been great. Mario is a phenomenal coach. I'm glad he's there. We work well together, and he's definitely helped my game, as far as the all around MMA aspect of it. He's not the head coach. None of the coaches are head coaches anymore. All the coaches now seem to get along and work well together. All the guys are cooperating. The team is functioning as a unit now. It's like night and day. The dynamic and chemistry is great.
Interviewer: What is the atmosphere like now that Mike Van Arsdale is gone?
Melvin Guillard: It's a lot different. It's a lot quieter. Everybody respects all the coaches there. Coach Mike didn't really get a lot of respect from some of the guys, so it was tough for people to listen to him when they didn't respect him. It's nobody's fault but his own, as to why he's not there.
Interviewer: Have you thought about the possibility that this might be your first fight of the night bonus?
Melvin Guillard: I'm expecting a three round war. I know Donald is going to bring it, so I've got to bring it just as well. I don't want to put too much pressure on myself, though. My objective is to go in there and finish him, so come Saturday night, I will knock out Donald Cerrone.
Interviewer: How do you see the main event between Frankie Edgar and Ben Henderson going?
Melvin Guillard: I'm not expecting anything different from their first fight. I'm expecting the same fight from last time, with Ben winning three of the five rounds, or even all five rounds.
Interviewer: Not to look past Donald, but he has already started calling out Anthony Pettis, and they've actually verbally agreed to fight. Since Joe Lauzon just won his last fight with Jamie Varner, would you be interested in a rematch with him?
Melvin Guillard: That is the fight I want next. I'm not looking past Donald, but win or lose, I still want to fight Lauzon. He's just won that one fight. He came off a loss, and then won this last one. Like I said, everybody is beating everybody. Our weight class is so stacked. Nobody has been able to really remain dominant like Anderson Silva or Jon Jones. It's a great time to be a lightweight, and I'm happy to be here in it.
Interviewer: Do you feel Frankie is deserving of this latest title shot?
Melvin Guillard: My whole thing with the lightweight division is this: if that had been a close fight I would've said, 'He's the champion and lost a close decision, so he deserves another title shot', but when I saw that fight, I felt like Frankie lost every round. I'm not a judge, but I can judge a fight better than a lot of them. He did lose, and it wasn't close. I say this respectfully, but they should have never gave him another title shot, back to back.
We're all getting older. Him getting a rematch and taking another half a year makes it where I might not see a title shot for another two or three years. I'm not the type of guy that's willing to sit out and wait for a title shot. I'll keep putting my reputation on the line. When I fall short, people are quick to criticize me, saying I choked against Lauzon or Miller. They have to remember, when I had a five fight streak going, I could have sat down and waited for my shot. That's not me. It's not just about getting the title. It's about being active and giving the fans what they want. If I go out and fight, and possibly get choked again, just to prove a point, I'll do it. Nobody wanted to fight Donald. I had to step up to the plat and fight one of my best friends and a former teammate because every guy in the division wouldn't do it. That should tell you something about the 55ers in the division.
It's a little frustrating. It's nobody's fault but my own, the reason I'm not fighting for a title shot. Had I beaten Lauzon and Miller, I probably would have been next in line. Those two losses set me back. The win over Fabricio really didn't do much for me. It just positioned me in a co-main event spot with Donald. From here, I just have to keep fighting hard, and working towards that title. Whether it comes tomorrow or five years from now doesn't matter. As long as I get that title before I retire, I can fulfill my legacy.
Interviewer: How do you feel about guys that can't cut it in a weight class, so they keep cutting weight classes in the hopes of gaining an edge or a quicker shot at the title?
Melvin Guillard: I'm glad you brought that up. Guys that move weight class to weight class like that, I feel like in their minds, they've already mentally beaten themselves. If I can't win the title at lightweight, at least I'll know one thing. I made a ton of money in this division. It's not the way I want to go out, but I'm not going to run and chase the 145 title because I feel I can't win at 155. No matter how many times I win or lose, I'm never going to run from my weight class. This is where I'm going to stay until I win the belt or retire. The guys that keep changing weight classes, I feel like in their mind, they feel that they can't win.
You can follow Melvin via his Twitter, @Young__Assassin