In the UFC lightweight division, proof of ability and demonstration of accomplishment are chief priorities. That's particularly true when you finally reach a position where one or two more wins will net you a title shot. Heading into UFC 136, that's precisely where Melvin Guillard finds himself.
Guillard faces fellow 'The Ultimate Fighter' alumnus (albeit from a different season) Joe Lauzon on the main card of UFC 136. While Lauzon's career inside the Octagon is filled with as many peaks as it has troughs, Guillard is on the precipe of something greater. 'The Young Assassin' has rattled off five consecutive wins and perhaps most importantly, he's done so against opponents like Shane Roller and Evan Dunham. Neither Roller nor Dunham are Lauzon's twin, but all three present the type of aggressive, high-percentage submission challenge that historically plagued Guillard's career. Consecutive victories over three opponents with that particular skill set not only puts Guillard one step closer to a title shot, it indicates he's perhaps finally turned a corner in eliminating his Achilles' heel.
In this interview with MMA Nation Radio on 106.7 The Fan, Guillard talks about whether he could've defeated Lauzon three years ago, why he decided to train with Imperial Athletics and presents a new nickname he believe he can proudly wear once this weekend is over: 'The Jiu-Jitsu Killer'.
Full audio and transcript below:
Luke Thomas: Alright, joining us right now on the McDonald's hotline. He takes on Joe Lauzon this weekend at UFC 136: Edgar vs. Maynard III on the main card kicking off the pay-per-view at 9 p.m. The one and only, "The Young Assassin," Melvin Guillard. Melvin, how are you, sir?
Melvin Guillard: I'm doing great, how are you guys doing, man?
Luke Thomas: I am doing quite well, happy to have you on the line. Ton of questions for you, I know your time brief so let's get right into it. Joe Lauzon, I have to tell you, this is a guy, let me ask you, if you fought him three years ago as the Melvin Guillard you were three years ago, could you have beat him three years ago?
Melvin Guillard: I could have beat him three years ago, but it would have been like a 50/50 chance then because at that time, as everybody knows, I was getting caught in silly submissions. My submission defense wasn't as good so it would have been a case of me either knocking him out before he get me to the ground and possibly catch me in a crazy submission. Do I think he can beat me now? Now way, no how. I guess I'm gonna have to name myself "The Jiu-Jitsu Killer" after this fight
Luke Thomas: That's a hilarious description. Talk to me about defending submissions. Obviously you're a great athlete and you've obviously always had big power, good striking, good wrestling as well. Talk to me about how you decided, "You know what? I've got to get better at submissions." What was the turning point for you?
Melvin Guillard: It was just showing up to Jackson's. When Joe "Daddy" Stevenson took me to Jackson's, it was amazing because I could work with anybody. I worked with guys like Carlos Condit every day who has a great jiu-jitsu game, Donald Cerrone who has a great jiu-jitsu game. Just those two in general, I had other guys I worked with too, but those two guys right there alone, they present problems for me in the gym but they don't just sit there and keep tapping me out, they actually show me how to keep from tapping to certain things and it's a learning process. It's cool to have teammates that teach you on the go and then I get to work some of my ground game with Greg Jackson. I also took the privilege of coming down to Imperial before this fight. I got to work with some of the guys like Jorge Santiago from Imperial, JZ Cavalcante, I got to work with some of these guys and their ground game was freakin awesome as well. When you have the opportunity to go and get better, take that chance and I took it. I am more confident heading into this fight with Joe Lauzon and the one thing Joe Lauzon don't have that these guys that my teammates have, these guys are very strong and are great at what they do. Joe is great at what he does but there's no way he's near as strong as anyone I train with and he's not as strong as I am.
Luke Thomas: How similar of an opponent are Shane Roller and Joe Lauzon? I mean, they're not twins, they're not identical, they don't even train together in the same part of the country but to the extent that they go for high percentage submissions and the transition game. Do you believe that Shane Roller was a good first opponent to have before fighting Joe Lauzon?
Melvin Guillard: Yeah, but I mean the same way with Evan Dunham. Even Dunham has good submissions but guess what? With my fighting style, I don't give guys a chance to get comfortable. At the end of the day man, it's about me making them very uncomfortable when they step into the cage and that's the way I fight. Joe Lauzon, he's no different from Evan Dunham and Shane Roller to me. He's no different from the Nate Diaz's. He's a high level submission artist and he's great at what he do but I'm also great at what I do. My thing is, it's not a NAGA tournament, it's not a BJJ tournament, this is a fight. I'm going in there to fight. I'm not going in there to try to outwrestle Joe Lauzon. I'm not going in there to try to out-jiu-jitsu Joe Lauzon. I'm going in and I'm gonna put my hands on Joe Lauzon and he's gonna touch the mat and I'm gonna pick him up after I wake him up and say, "Hey, thanks for the great fight." That's how it's going down on Saturday.
Luke Thomas: How do you think Joe Lauzon responds to physical punishment?
Melvin Guillard: Man, you know what? All I know is the guys that I did see him fight, when guys were just as scrappy or when guys get in his face, he folded under pressure. He's one of those guys that will try to impose his will early but when that doesn't work, he looks for a way out. With me, I know damn well he ain't about to come impose his will on me. That ain't happening. I'm definitely gonna impose my will and I'm gonna try to beat my record of a minute and a half this fight. I knocked Shane Roller out in a minute and a half and I'm gonna try to beat that record. I'm gonna try for the quickest knockout ever. Hopefully I can just walk and punch him in the face and he just falls.
Luke Thomas: In terms of training with Imperial Athletics, I know you mentioned that. How did Team Jackson take that when you said, "You know what guys? I'm gonna head down to Florida." How did that conversation go?
Melvin Guillard: Everybody took it funny man. Everybody had mixed feelings about it but you know what, I'm doing what helps Melvin. At the end of the day, none of those guys on the team are paying my bills. I've got three car notes, I've got a house note. At the end of the day, it's about what Melvin has to do for Melvin to survive, you know what I mean? Some of the guys took it well and I can tell some of the guys weren't too pleased about it but at the end of the day, the guys that are grounding themselves and only staying close-minded and only training there or only training somewhere else, that's their business but I'm gonna open my mind to opportunities that I have. I didn't have these opportunities three or four years ago. I remember trying to call around for a gym and guys would turn me down and say no I can't train there. Couture's gym in Vegas was one of those gyms. When I was looking for a home, they turned me away saying, "No, we can't take you." For me to have an opportunity to have guys want to train with me now and have gym doors fly open for me to train, it's amazing, it's an amazing feeling. Will Greg Jackson's be the last camp I train at? No, probably not. Will Imperial be the last camp I ever train at? No, probably not because the more I open my mind to things they have out there, they have trainers all over the world. I'm going to Thailand this year at the end of the year. I plan on training in Fuket with some of the best kickboxing coaches in the world. That's the way you become better. That's the way you become a champion. That's the way you become a successful champion.
Luke Thomas: Really quickly Melvin, tell me about what it was about Imperial Athletics that you wanted to go to that camp for. Was it the jiu-jitsu training? Was it because Rashad is a good mentor? Quickly just lay out for me what you saw there that made you think they can help you.
Melvin Guillard: For the record, it had nothing to do with Rashad. I didn't go there for Rashad. Rashad is like a brother to me but Rashad was injured. Rashad didn't even get to train with me. I went down there to train with Coach Henry. He's a Dutch kickboxing world champion from Holland. He's 111 wins and only 7 losses in his whole career. My agent brought him in, moved him here from here from Holland and made him one of their head coaches. I also have coach Van Arsdale who's an amazing wrestling coach and actually one of the guys I idolize growing up watching him fight in the UFC. This guy was amazing, you know? My agent, he put this team together and he has a good thing going down there. It's not because my agent invited me down and he's trying to pull me away from Jackson's. My agent knows that he's not ever gonna between anything I want to do. I love Jackson's gym just as much as I love going to Imperial now because it's two different styles of fighting. Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn are tremendous coaches and I love working with Winkeljohn and just to see the differences in stylistic training, it's two different worlds and for me to be able to train with both? I'm gonna take that opportunity and run with it. A lot of people are trying to make the hype between the whole Jon Jones and Rashad issue. That's not my beef. I have nothing to do with those guys beefing. I'm gonna do what it takes to make me a world champion and if any coach have a problem with that, then guess what? See ya later. I guess you could say I can be like the Donald Trump because at the end of the day I'm my own boss and I have to do what makes my business successful. If I don't have that right chemistry for my business to be successful, then I have to get rid of the bad eggs.
Luke Thomas: Last question before I let you go Melvin, it's a guy you might wind facing if you beat Joe Lauzon. The winner of Gray Maynard versus Frankie Edgar. Who is the UFC lightweight champion come Monday morning?
Melvin Guillard: I don't know man. You know what? I like both guys. Gray's a good friend of mine and Frankie's a good guy. It doesn't matter to me who wins at this point because after I knock out Joe Lauzon on Saturday, I'm gonna have to fight one sooner than later. Eventually in my career, I will fight both of those guys and you know what? That's just the way the business goes. If my brother was a fighter and he was at the top of the heap, I'd probably have to fight my own brother. I grew up fighting my own brothers anyway so it doesn't bother me to fight a friend. It's a business and guess what? We're all chasing one dream and that's to be the lightweight champion.