Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2009 | midnight
Ultimate Fight Night 19
- Who: Co-main event Nate Diaz vs. Melvin Guillard, Roger Huerta vs. Gray Maynard; undercard includes Carlos Condit vs. Jake Ellenberger, Nate Quarry vs. Tim Credeur, Steve Cantwell vs. Brian Stann, Mike Pyle vs. Chris Wilson
- When: 8 p.m. Wednesday (tape delayed on West Coast)
- Where: Where: Cox Convention Center, Oklahoma City
- TV: Spike TV (Cable Channel 29)
Melvin Guillard tries not to think about the past too much.
While the memories, many negative, have helped shape the person and fighter he has become, he doesn’t need to waste anymore time on what he could have done different — he’d already spent six months dealing with those thoughts.
“It’s been tough. It’s been an emotional rollercoaster,” says the 26-year-old Guillard, who spent six months last year in a Houston jail cell after probation violation for a 2007 drug charge.
“Those six months gave me time to miss my family, miss my wife, miss the sport. I sit there all the time, night and day, I hoped and prayed that Dana (White) and them (UFC executives) understood what was going on and that I still would have a job when I got out.”
Luckily for Guillard, a New Orleans native who also suffered through Hurricane Katrina and the death of his father in the same year in 2005, UFC brass gave him another shot.
Guillard rewarded their understanding with a split decision win over Gleison Tibau at “The Ultimate Fighter” Season No. 9 finale in June.
The victory was impressive enough to land the TUF Season No. 2 alum a headlining gig against Nate Diaz tonight at Fight Night 19 at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City.
Now the “Young Assassin” hopes to turn the negative memories along with any haters that are still out there into motivation to reach the top of the ultra-competitive lightweight division.
“I always learned growing up that you don’t know how the good times are unless you endure the bad,” said Guillard, who sports a career mixed martial arts record of 41-8-3, 1 no contest.
“But It’s finally good to have all that negative behind me and just live and fight.”
And a fight is exactly what Guillard expects out of Diaz, a Stockton, Calif., native.
“His submission game is not like any ordinary submission game. He’s one of those guys where you can think you’re in a good position and he throws a submission on out of nowhere,” Guillard said of Diaz.
“I have to be very cautious, very methodical about my attack. I definitely have to watch my aggressiveness. Nate is one of those guys that like to wear his opponent down, get guys to gas out and then try to finish them.”
But Guillard says if he can utilize his game plan, which he hinted would be keeping the fight on his feet, he’s very confident in extending his three-fight win streak to four.
“Going into the fight with Nate I know I’m the bigger, stronger, faster fighter. I’m not worried whatsoever,” Guillard said. “
“I think we are two guys that are aggressive and like to move forward, which should make for a good fight. Hands will be swinging, but I’m that confident that my striking is that superior to Nate’s.”
Guillard credits his punching prowess to not only fighting in underground clubs while still in high school in Metairie, La., but also his training with pro boxers.
“I think I spend more time in my boxing gym now than I do in my MMA gym. I’m sparring with light heavyweight champions, welterweight and featherweight champions that box. I’m holding my own with professional boxers,” Guillard said.
“The one thing I bring to the game that a lot of other MMA fighters don’t do is when Nate and them are throwing those peppering shots a lot of fighters are standing there and taking what they throw. I’m one of those fighters where I’m slipping jabs, slipping right hands and counter-punching as well. With my superior boxing, I think it will make a great fight for me if it does become a stand up battle.”
But just in case Diaz gets the fight on the ground and the opportunity to utilize his Jiu-Jitsu skills, Guillard enlisted the help of friend Joe Stevenson, who beat Diaz in his last fight.
“I’m actually gonna have Joe go over some submission defense and a couple of things on the ground that he used against Nate. I’m just going over a game plan a bit with him,” said Guillard who actually lost to Stevenson in his only other headlining appearance at UFC Fight Night 9 in April 2007.
“It’s really just about executing my game plan. I’m gonna make Nate fight my fight.”
And, of course, focusing on the future, not the problems of the past.
“I’m going into this fight to have fun. That’s something I haven’t been doing for a while, I was so caught up on the business and some of the other things,” Guillard said.
“I’m a better fighter when I’m having fun and I’m pretty confident I’ll be getting my hand raised at the end of the fight.”
Andy Samuelson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-948-7837.