A veteran in his prime? That seems to be how Melvin Guillard sees himself after getting the bounce from the UFC back in mid-2014. Now, having just turned 32, and following a brief (and tumultuous) relationship with the World Series of Fighting, Guillard is setting his sights on a new set of goals. Most importantly, making Bellator his long term home. He'll be making his promotional debut this week, at Bellator 141, where he'll fight relative unknown Brandon Girtz in the main event.
Guillard sat down with Bloody Elbow to talk about his upcoming bout and about his career in general. Oh, and because I talked to Guillard shortly after the NSAC hearing, Anderson Silva's drug test fiasco. Guillard weighed in with his thoughts on the former UFC champion getting caught with his pants down, so to speak.
"Hey man, you cheat you get caught, that's on you," Guillard told Blood Elbow. "I don't know, they're cracking down on a lot of stuff now, but I think it's evening out the playing ground. I think it's making everything fairer and fighters need to be aware that if you get caught it's going to cost you in the long run. I mean, I love Anderson Silva, I take my hat off to him, but he's a man, he'll deal with it. $380,000 though, that's crazy."
Back to matters at hand, however, Guillard spoke about what (now that his UFC & WSOF exits are behind him) he's looking for out of his time with Bellator, and whether he sees this promotion as a potential long term home or just another stopping point.
"I'm looking really to stay busy, to stay active, be a big part of Bellator as far as the marketing and promoting, you know, making myself at home," says Guillard. "I'm not in here planning on going back to the UFC or anything like that, I really want to stay with Bellator and make it my home. And they're giving me a great opportunity. Basically, I want to fight for the world title if that comes about. But, it won't be against my teammate Will Brooks. I'll wait until I have the right opportunity to fight for the title. ATT is family, that means more than just trying to win a gold belt and be no. 1 and have that status."
In reference to his upcoming opponent, Brandon Girtz, and whether Girtz represents something of a competitive step down for Guillard, the longtime vet said that he doesn't see it that way.
"Everyone that steps into the... Bellator or UFC or any big organization, everyone of us are hungry, trying to get to that main goal. Everybody wants to be a world champion, everybody wants to be relevant. I think the guy is dangerous in a lot of ways, because nobody really knows who he is. I didn't even really know who he was, and that's no disrespect to him. How can I be a fan of someone I don't know. A lot of people that see the poster and see the commercial, they still don't really know who the guy is.
"I only really think about myself in that instance, because I've done everything I needed to do to make myself relevant, to make myself be that super star. And it's not only because I always had a brash personality or I ran my mouth to other fighters, it was because of how I fought. Even when I lost fights I've always given exciting fights. And that's just the way I fight. I don't take anything away from the guy, but nobody really knows him and right now he's trying to make a name for himself by beating me."
As for just how much time Guillard feels he can wait to get his shot, "The Young Assassin" sounded very confident that, even with almost 13 years as a pro under his belt, he's no where close to being done as a fighter.
"When I was young, people were telling me, 'Oh, when you get in your 30s, you're going to be in your prime and that's when you're going to hit your peak.' I just turned 32 man, it's not like I'm about to turn 40. I've had a lot of fights, but I haven't taken any... not much damage. I've never been hurt, injured I mean, as far as blowing out my knees or anything like that. The only injury I've ever suffered is my right hand. It gives me problems from time to time, the arthritis in it. But other than that, it's my money maker, so I'll throw that sucker as long as I need to.
As far as age or being worn down, I've always been smart about training. I go to the gym, I train, I train hard, and when I have time off, I take a little time off. I have a little bit of a maintenance schedule, but I'm not in the gym just burning myself out. The training is just to stay in shape. I already know how to fight. Here and there I learn new techniques, but with where I am in my game, I'm satisfied with it and I'm satisfied that I can be a world champion with what I already know."
In fact, with the UFC's increasing sponsorship restrictions Guillard event went as far as to suggest that his release from the promotion was a benefit to him, citing that he usually made more money in sponsorship dollars than fight purses under Zuffa.
"Everybody has mixed feelings about it." Guillard told Bloody Elbow, speaking of the UFC's recent uniform deals. "I was released from the UFC before all that was actually official. So, for me I was released, so I have no beef about it, but I felt a little bit of relief though. I was like, "Man, I'm glad they let me go before all this really happened." Because a lot of guys are a little upset that they're losing sponsorships. For us, that's how we make a living. Most of the time, for me, in the past I'd make more money with sponsors than I actually made in the UFC. So, I can imagine how it hits their pocket, it upsets their living, how they live at home. A lot of guys have kids and families. So, I think it affects a lot of people and a lot of people are upset about it. I just hope the good name of the UFC, which is a household name doesn't get washed out because seasoned vets don't want to fight or sign with them. It's gonna really hurt the business."
With such a long and varied career under his belt already, it only seemed right to ask Guillard if there were any lessons he's learned that he wished he'd figured out earlier. The biggest one, Guillard said, was maturity.
"For me, I wish ten years ago I would have been a little more disciplined in terms of maturity. I was young, running wild, having fun. I was enjoying being famous in the UFC, but at the same time, I always took what I did very seriously. If I'd took it a little more serious and had a little more discipline at the time, I probably would have been a world champion already."
You can follow Melvin Guillard on Twitter @Young__Assassin