MMA Nation and the media spoke with UFC lightweight contender Melvin Guillard following the UFC 136 workouts on Thursday afternoon. Before facing Joe Lauzon on Saturday, 'The Young Assassin' has been reflecting. It hasn't always been easy for the fighter from Louisiana who has faced personal demons that have held him back time and time again. Guillard, who has finally turned a corner in his career, is in a position to take the next big step and potentially be granted a title shot should he defeat Joe Lauzon on Saturday.
Melvin decided to leave his long time camp at Greg Jackson's academy in Albuquerque, New Mexico to train with long time friend and teammate Rashad Evans at Imperial athletics (although it should be noted Evans was not there during camp). Even though he has made the change of camp, he doesn't believe it has changed his style of fighting at all. In fact, he believes it has improved the skills he already possessed. He explains, "It hasn't that changed that much. Like I've been telling everybody. I already had my style of fighting that I invented myself a long time ago."
"But it's always good to get help from world class trainers," Guillard insisted. "My agent brought in Henriq, he's a dutch kickboxing champion from Holland, I couldn't wait to go work with him. And honestly, since I worked with him, I've hit five or six times harder than what I was hitting. All because the Dutch way of fighting is very powerful. He showed me some ways of channeling my punches and kicks into a little bit more power. I'm excited myself for Saturday because I'm excited to see what's about to happen."
Although he has worked at Imperial, he hasn't written off his relationship with the Greg Jackson camp. Instead, Guillard feels at this point in his career, he needs to not worry about himself and his own future as a fighter. "Yes, I'm still training in Albuquerque. Yes, I'm still affiliated with Jackson's. But I have to make decisions in my career that's gonna help Melvin", he insisted. "I don't care about the egos or whatever Rashad and Jon [Jones] got going on. They're both my good friends. Rashad's like a brother to me since season two of The Ultimate Fighter. I'll never turn my back on either one of those guys. I just hope that they can sort this stuff out and get their stuff together."
"I'm not the middle man. I'm there for me," Guillard said sternly. "Right now, it's sad to say but I have to be selfish to a sense because I have to get my title. Those guys have already tasted success. They know what it feels like to be champion and have Dana put that belt around their waist. I haven't tasted that yet. Right now I think I have a good formula for success and I'm gonna stick to it."
One of the lesser known facts about Guillard is that he is the cousin of current Strikeforce heavyweight Daniel Cormier. Although Cormier is the more experienced wrestler, it is Guillard who would be considered the veteran fighter of the family. He spoke about Cormier's abilities and why MMA is such a good transition for wrestlers coming out of college. "Daniel's a great guy. He coached me when I was on the national team in Louisiana. Awesome wrestler. He's come a long way man. I'm proud of him," he said.
"I haven't seen him in a while. Hopefully I get to see him again pretty soon. They all thought I was crazy when I was 15 and 16 doing MMA. I remember those guys telling me, 'Man you're too young. That sport's wicked.' Now, I see all them have their retirement plan from wrestling to MMA. That's all MMA is man. It's a good retirement plan to come out of collegiate wrestling and come out of Olympic wrestling and make a lot of money. Wrestlers dominate this sport."