Guillard talks Blackzilians, Anderson Silva, and taking baby steps
When explosive lightweight Melvin Guillard returns to the Octagon Saturday as part of UFC 148, he’ll be competing for the sixteenth time for the sport’s premiere organization.
Guillard initially joined the lightweight ranks after competing on “The Ultimate Fighter 2” and since his time on the hit reality show has become known for his fierce fighting style and highlight reel knockouts.
However, Guillard’s downfall more times than not has been due to his submission game, which he’s worked diligently to shore up the gaps that may have previously existed. In order to do so, he picked up his life in New Mexico, where he previously trained under Greg Jackson and moved to South Florida to learn under the tutelage of Mike Van Arsdale and the Blackzilians. A decision he couldn’t be happier with prior to facing Fabricio Camoes next Saturday night at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
“It’s always good, you want to have a good environment to train in, but you also want to have guys that are going to make you better,” Guillard recently told Heavy.com. “When you go to the gym, and in the past when I was at Jackson’s, I was at gym’s where I was like the best guy in the gym. To come to a gym where all the guys are good, everybody brings something to the table it makes it that much more rewarding when you compete. I feel like all the hard things are done in the training room now and, when I do compete, I feel like sometimes things in fights come a little easier for me because I have been pushed in the training room instead of being pushed to the test in the cage when everything’s on the line.”
With a host of training partners in preparation for fights of their own within days of Guillard’s, the Blackzilians have him feeling fully equipped for all scenarios that Camoes will bring his way inside the Octagon.
“Everybody is putting in hard work and long hours,” Guillard said. “Everybody is trying to get somewhere no matter what division they fight in. Certain guys are trying to get back to the UFC, certain guys are trying to get to the UFC, and for me to see guys working hard to get to the organization where I’ve had a lot of success makes me work hard. Because I learned that if these guys are working this hard to get where I’m at, I can’t take advantage of the situation I’m in and get too relaxed. [I can’t] Start relaxing too much and feeling like I got everything already taken care of – because you know like I said earlier I’m on a two-fight losing streak and I feel like I got my back against the wall.
“I feel like this is a must win fight for me and I have to not only go in there and win, but win impressively. So, when you have the atmosphere with guys putting in the hard work and long hours you have no choice but to put in those long hours and work just as hard because you want to be successful. That’s my main goal, I want to stay successful and I want to show that I don’t take advantage of the opportunities that are in front of me.”
The opportunity immediately in front of the talented lightweight is fighting on the sport’s grandest stage inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena as part of the year’s most highly-anticipated pay-per-view. Pound-for-pound king and middleweight champion Anderson Silva faces the outspoken Chael Sonnen in the night’s main event and Guillard plans to feed off energy in order to continue his success under the bright Las Vegas lights.
“You know something, I never really gave that a lot of thought, but if I had to think off the top of my head right now I would say fighting in Vegas is my favorite place to fight,” said Guillard. “I’ve been fighting there since I was 16 years old and the atmosphere fighting there is way more electric than fighting in Nashville or fighting in Houston even. And don’t get me wrong, the Houston crowd was great and the Nashville crowd was great, but there’s something about Vegas man. I show up and it’s one of those things that the city is built upon shows. You go and see all of these shows and I get to be one of the acts.
“That’s how I look at it, it’s like going to see Zumanity (Las Vegas based Cirque du Soleil show) or something. And when they perform they give you their all because those people spend a lot of money to see those shows in Vegas. And for me, it’s about giving back that same energy. When I’m in Vegas, that’s my home and I love fighting there. It’s my stomping ground where I’ve been successful the past couple years and I always show up to put on a good fight in Vegas.”
With that being said, the aforementioned Anderson Silva provided a spark during Guillard’s preparation for his 4th of July bout, having admired the champion much of his MMA career.
“You know me man, it’s 4th of July weekend and you guys can always expect fireworks from me. Like I said earlier, I get to fight on the card for the first time with one of the guys that I admire the most in the sport and that’s Anderson Silva. I knew of Anderson Silva before he was in the UFC and he’s definitely a guy that I’ve followed for a long time. To be able to fight in the same Octagon that night with one of the guys that’s a legend in the sport, it definitely raises the bar for me and makes me want to go out and fight even harder and have an impressive victory. It gives me the opportunity to challenge myself. I want to go out and try to out perform the champion. For me, it works in my favor because I remind myself to fight smart so I don’t make any careless mistakes.”
On July 7, Guillard attempts to eliminate those mistakes, so that he can return to the form that saw him within reach of a shot at the lightweight championship of the world. The championship aspirations haven’t disappeared, but instead Guillard’s focused on “taking baby steps” in order to defeat Camoes on his rise to the top.
“It’s about staying focused and my biggest goal in the UFC is to stay in the UFC and not get cut. The perks of that is that the title will come, so right now my main focus is taking it one fight at a time and continuing to be apart of something great with the UFC. I’ve actually had the opportunity to grow with this company over the past seven years and it’s great. So, I definitely look at all the perks I’ve had and I look at all the fights I’ve had and I have a lot great fights still left in me. I’m definitely looking to fulfill my legacy here in the next couple years by being lightweight champion, but my main focus right now is on Fabricio Camoes, taking it one fight at a time and taking baby steps. Sometimes I end up taking those baby steps then trying to run again.
“So, I think I’m going to keep myself grounded and continue to take baby steps even throughout the process of becoming champion – just continue to tell myself to take baby steps all the way until I retire.”
Be sure and keep up with Melvin’s fight and all of the fights with our UFC 148 news