Remember those days when the UFC didn’t think there was enough depth to have a lightweight division? In the early shades of this millennium if you weren’t able to make 170-pounds then you would have a lot of trouble finding work in North America.
Well, today things are a little different, the 155-pound ranks might be the must cut-throat division right now, getting to fight for the top crown in the division doesn’t come easy and very few make it, in fact in the past four years only four men have were able to vie for the top spot on the lightweight mountain.
Melvin Guillard is a fighter that has been stuck in the upper level of the 155-pound log jam for a long time now, at one stage having a five fight unbeaten streak that still didn’t get him a shot at the divisional king.
At the UFC 132 post-fight press conference last year after he steam rolled Shane Roller, he joked that he would fight his mother if it got him a shot at a UFC title, this elicited a large ballad of laughter from the media, everyone smiled, except Melvin.
While his mother is not a member of the UFC’s lightweight roster, a man he has considered a brother in the past is, and he is willing to step into the eight-sided cage with him on Saturday if it means he gets closer to getting the ultimate reward for his spoils of war, a UFC title.
Donald Cerrone was one of the key gym fighters that linked with the 29-year-old during his stretch in Albuquerque, New Mexico as both reached their greatest level of success under the tutelage of world renowned trainers Greg Jackson and Mike Winklejohn.
Jackson’s gym is widely regarded as one of the best in the Country with a slew of current and former champions and contenders resting their hats there, but with that, also leaves fighters left outside in the cold at times.
Guillard left New Mexico and took the long trek up to the virgining fight camp Jaco Hybrid Training Center that has been dubbed the ‘Blackzillians’ where he currently resides.
It’s been a big change, I’m always a guy that when I go to different places I like to learn like a sponge, I miss Jackson’s camp tremendously, I miss those guys a whole lot and sometimes it’s a little saddening with me leaving but my coach said, and it’s kind of true, ‘Sometimes you learn so much from one culture and you need to go somewhere else to pick up another style
With the well-publicized split between Rashad Evans and Jon Jones the debate over team mates stepping into the cage against one another has intensified over the past twelve months, while these two don’t train together now, they still know each other inside and out.
While I can’t speak of who got the better of who behind closed doors in the training rooms, both will know what the other is about to do, probably before they do it, which is an element we rarely see in full-contact fighting. Whichever way you slice it the Florida resident guarantees fun.
I can sum it up in one word: it’s gonna be fun. Donald’s a great guy, one of my best friends, teammates and one of my main sparring partners actually, and I think this fight has fun written all over it, there’s not gonna be holding back like in sparring, it’s gonna be a straight up fight.
The question on everyone’s lips when the fight is over is going to be where these two stack up the 155-pound pecking order, with both being deemed ‘in the mix’ as the UFC President would say on more than one occasion.
The fight receiving top billing on their pay-per-view portion is the lightweight championship bout with Frankie Edgar who will be gunning to get his belt back against former WEC king Benson Henderson. A win for either would give them a solid argument to getting a crack somewhere down the line.
At this point I feel like yeah it could [get me a title shot], but as I keep saying, it’s not like 155-ers are gonna be able to build up six or seven fight win streaks anymore, the class is too stacked, it’s ridiculous. Right now it’s about picking the right fights and the smart fights and to me Donald is a smart fight – He’s a contender, he comes to fight and he’s a guy that pops up on the radar regularly as well as me.
For the entire interview as well as chats with one-armed fighter Nick Newelll and rising bantamweight prospect Max Holloway click here.
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