At times during his UFC career Melvin Guillard has been seen as something of a loose cannon, a volatile, arrogant character who can be his own worst enemy at times.
His win last night over Evan Dunham however, once again indicated that he’s maturing both inside and outside of the cage.
After his impressive first round TKO victory, Guillard was keen to stress the importance of his coaches at the renowned Jackson’s MMA camp who’ve helped harness his potential and guide him to four consecutive wins inside the Octagon.
“It was a team effort. It was great coaching, combined with my hard work and training in the gym, and just putting it all together,” told UFC.com.
In the past Guillard’s ground game has been a weakness, but against a dangerous BJJ black belt last night he showed that he can survive under pressure on the mat. ‘The Young Assassin’ believes it’s the caliber of opponent he trains with day in – day out these days that’s made the difference.
“I’m always rolling with guys that are better than me, and I hold my own. So when I hit the mat in the cage under duress, I don’t panic anymore, that’s the biggest thing about my career right now and how I’m progressing. I don’t panic when I touch the mat. When I hit the mat under Evan, I was calm. I knew with my explosiveness, I knew I was going to get straight back up.”
The real difference in this fight was the stand-up though, and Guillard admits he was more than willing to stand toe-to-toe with the highly rated Dunham.
“I knew Evan didn’t hit as hard as Jeremy [Stephens] so I was able to go out there and take that chance. Had I been wrong I would have been wrong, but you know what, life is about chances. I’ve taken a lot of chances, good and bad in my whole life. So I went out there and gave the troops a chance and gave them a great fight, and I came out victorious.”
Again a more humble Guillard than we’ve become accustomed to hearing from brings the conversation back to his coaches though.
“You got to have pinpoint precision man, that’s just what I do, and that comes from working round the clock with [my striking] coach [Mike Winklejohn]. I also put it together with Dr Tripp with my judo – I’m good at keeping guys off me. I’m already strong, but when I get the angles and I get leverage with my judo, I’m ten times stronger than what I really look. So, I’m just blessed to have a world class gold medalist as a judo coach. I’m blessed to have coach Greg [Jackson[ and coach Winklejohn in my corner, and the whole Jackson’s [camp] family. We have the best team in the country right now, and I stand by that.”
So what comes next? With a string of wins under his belt Guillard now his sights set on the top of the lightweight ladder.
“Honestly, I feel I should be next in line,” Guillard told MMAJunkie after the fight. “It’s been a long time coming.”