Friday, January 20, 2012

UFC on FX 1: His Way

Melvin Guillard and Jim Miller will be looking for a win to get back in the lightweight hunt.
The UFC's first official (official meaning contractual) foray under their new Fox contract will take place Friday night in Nashville on the home of Louie CK, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and The League, FX. While more known for their comedies, a Friday night fight card is no joke ahead of next weeks Rashad Evans v. Phil Davis card on the mother ship Fox.

While the names may not jump out at you the UFC has put together a card with exciting fighters worthy, at least, of the 30% or so of DVR space it'll take up. The headline is Melvin Guillard and Jim Miller. For previewing the fight, I'm sure this does a far better job than I could, but I did want to say a couple things about the Young Assassin, Mr. Guillard.

Guillard's sordid past is no secret, but he has rounded into more professional form over the past year, with several impressive and flashy wins that put him on the cusp of title consideration in a very bogged down lightweight division. However, true to form, Guillard did a classic Guillard goof and ended up losing to Joe Lauzon to close out his 2011. In that fight, a fight he wanted in Houston, Guillard showed his confidence that bordered on arrogance. He didn't exactly have the demeanor of a fighter entering the ring, but rather a celebratory state and one that was unfocused. 47-seconds later, Lauzon finished Guillard off.

As much talent as Guillard has and has shown, he had a costly mistake that derailed his momentum. Hey, this is mixed martial arts. Anyone can lose at any time. Slip ups happen, but for Guillard it's become more of a habit than a chance encounter. Whether it's related or not to the loss, Guillard soon left Greg Jackson's camp on good terms to join the Blackzilians in Florida. Leaving Jackson's, which is universally regarded as the most prestigious camp in all of MMA, for a relatively new group (albeit with some Jackson alumni: Rashad Evans and Mike Van Arsdale) was a strange move. One that Guillard presumably predicates to comfort rather than strategy, but with his history, you have to wonder if this is part of Guillard being his own worst enemy. Making choices to run away from conflict rather than face his own flaws. Something he appeared to be doing in Jackson's.

This is not meant as a knock on the Blackzilian camp, but for a new group who just had one of their top fighters, Anthony Johnson (ahem.) show up a possibly record breaking 11 lbs. over the required weight limit, you wonder if the camp has not the discipline, but the structure to properly work with a force like Guillard. Someone who needs his fair share of hand holding.

Friday night will tell what kind of fighter Guillard will be moving forward. His camp may change again, but this is more about how he has matured from his first major loss since he matured from his previous immaturity...if you follow. He's on his way to being on his own and making his own decisions. He's on his way to seeing if his has what it takes to be a champion.

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