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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
UFC lightweight Melvin Guillard was on an excellent run in the division last year, winning five straight fights before being derailed by Joe Lauzon at UFC 136. After suffering a second consecutive loss in his fight with Jim Miller in January, Guillard's now in desperate need of a win to get back on track toward earning a title fight in the UFC.
Guillard will meet Fabricio Camoes next month at UFC 148 in Las Vegas, and while the recent setbacks are disheartening, he's absolutely planning on keeping that negative run at two fights.
"I always tell myself I fight better with pressure, with my back against the wall," Guillard told MMATorch this week. "I've never lost three in a row; it's always been maybe two and then I'll win one. I'm definitely looking forward to a good three rounds on July 7."
The matchup with Camoes represents another high-level submission fighter for Guillard to face, a style that has been the bane of his fighting existence throughout his career. However, Guillard has been addressing that aspect of his game in this training camp with the Blackzilians camp, and is excited for what he's got in store for this summer.
"I'm doing tons and tons of jiu jitsu," Guillard said. "I've actually been competing at blue belt with gi now; actually, I have a NAGA tournament two weeks after my fight that I'm competing in Orlando. I'm preparing myself; that's my only weakness, man, but I honestly can say the one thing about being here in south Florida, the jiu jitsu is a lot higher rated because I've got a lot of black belts on my team. It's been fun; they're making it fun for me to learn. I'm definitely excited. Not only for the fight, but I think I'm more excited about competing in my first NAGA tournament, so I've definitely been pushing the envelope with my training."
Guillard left Greg Jackson's camp in Albuquerque, New Mexico, last year in order to join up with the upstart Blackzilians in Florida. Though he had some reservations at the time, he's not looking back on the decision, and believes the pieces are in place for the team to be a real force for a long time to come."
"Parts of me kind of regretted it after awhile, but I never look back and I always like to stay grounded where I'm at," Guillard said of the move away from Jackson's. "I miss everything about being at Greg Jackson's; definitely the success part of it, I was very successful while being there. But I make the best of everything. The guys here are great guys, it's a great team, it's just sometimes the coaches here are on different pages, and once we get that team unity we'll start flowing a little bit better."
"Everything takes developing. The great thing is, I get to be a part of something that is already here, that's already established."
For Guillard, the importance in training isn't so much on the particular names in camp. At Jackson's, he worked closely with lightweight counterparts Donald Cerrone and Clay Guida; at the Blackzilians, he's got top 10 lightweight Eddie Alvarez. However, it's the level of the unsung, unknown fighters he's working with constantly that he believes keeps him at his best.
"It doesn't matter who's in the gym. A name's a name," Guillard said. "There's a lot of great fighters where people don't even know their names. Especially here with the Blackzillians, we have a lot of guys that come from Holland that are K-1 kickboxers. We have a lot of guys from Brazil that come up who are great MMA fighters, they just don't fight in the UFC; but they fight internationally. So I'm in the gym with world class guys all the time."
Still, he does recognize that he's gained something from his time with those name fighters as well, though he's more than ready to step across from them in the cage if the occasion should ever present itself.
"To have a teammate like Eddie Alvarez is great," he said. "I miss the crazy sparring sessions with Donald Cerrone, Clay Guida, and them; but I parted my ways and I can't look back now, I have to keep looking forward. If that time comes where we ever have to cross paths in the ring, so be it… I'll fight anybody; I'll fight my mom if I have to."
The 29-year-old understands the importance of picking up a victory in this fight, but he's also conscious of the level of competition he's facing, and what the fight will or won't do for him in the UFC. So what will it take to move back into the title picture in the lightweight division?
"Win," Guillard said flatly. "Win fights; win the right fights. It may not take five fights to get a UFC title shot. If I fight the right two or three people and get wins that could possibly get me a shot. I don't think it's the number of people you fight, it's the level of competition that we challenge. For me, I've always challenged any and everybody, I don't care, I'll fight anybody in my weight class or any other weight class. Right now it's about getting the right fights. I don't think I'm going to gain anything from beating Fabricio, but it definitely will get me back in the win column, and hopefully after the Fabricio fight I can start focusing on some of the top contenders again."
He's hopeful for the right matchups, but he's also realistic - although understandably upset - about the lack of title opportunities in the division recently. In fact, he has some very real problems with the constant rematches being granted on top, especially the latest given to Frankie Edgar after his loss to Ben Henderson.
"I think it's a waste of time, and it's a waste of [other fighter's] times, because I think Frankie lost," Guillard said. "I felt like Frankie lost a majority of the rounds. He lost four of the five [rounds], I know that for a fact. I just think it puts a [hold] on the belt, and a guy like me who is 29 years old, I may not see a title shot until I'm 32 or 33, at least that's what I'm thinking in my head right now. I just don't think guys should get immediate rematches like that, I think it's ridiculous."
While he's not happy with the constant rematches for the title, the one fight he'd like to have himself is a rematch. That fight would be against Lauzon, who upset him at UFC 136 with a quick knockdown and submission. It's a result Guillard doesn't think would ever happen again, and he'd like to prove as much.
"The only fight I can honestly say that I want, want, would be a rematch with Joe Lauzon after this fight," Guillard said. "If I had to ask for a fight, that would be the fight I would ask for. But I honestly don't think that he'll take a rematch against me, because he knows he got lucky. I know he got lucky. The whole world knows he got lucky. He won, he was the better guy that day, but I think he won off of my impatience, me being impatient. But him challenging me again after [Anthony] Pettis knocked him out? I don't think he'd challenge me."
Before anything happens with Lauzon or anyone else, he's got to get past Camoes. That's not something he believes will be an issue, and he plans to keep himself undefeated on this particular weekend of the year.
"Just expect fireworks on the fourth of July," he said. "I'm 6-0 in July 4 [weekend] fights, and I plan on being 7-0 after July 7 this year."
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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