Lightweights Melvin Guillard and Ross Pearson will go to war in the co-main event of this Saturday’s (Oct. 26, 2013) UFC Fight Night (UFN) 30 event from Phones 4u Arena in Manchester, England.
Both fighters have a long tenure in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and both have a tendency to put on highly entertaining fights inside the Octagon.
Although only 30 years old, Guillard is a seasoned veteran with 46 professional mixed martial arts (MMA) bouts under his belt. He was primed for a UFC title run only two years ago, but losses to Joe Lauzon, Jim Miller, Donald Cerrone, and Jamie Varner derailed his momentum in a big way. He recently got back into the win column by knocking out Mac Danzig at UFC on FOX 8 last July.
When he’s focused, Guillard is one of the most electrifying knockout artists in the world. He’ll need to be on top of his game when he steps into the Octagon to face Pearson in Manchester.
Pearson – the winner of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 9 – returned to lightweight last year after losing to Cub Swanson at featherweight. So far it has been a good decision, as "Real Deal" knocked out George Sotiropoulos and Ryan Couture in his last two bouts. Pearson is up against a much tougher challenge at UFN 30, something Guillard believes that he already knows. If he can rise to the occasion and extend his win streak to three, Pearson may arrive as a true player in the talent-heavy UFC lightweight arena.
With two power-hitters set to hit the Octagon, this bout could earn a "Knockout of the Night" bonus from either fighter. Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for Melvin Guillard vs. Ross Pearson:
Record: 48-12-2 (1) overall, 13-8 UFC
Keys to Victory: Guillard has a deadly combination of power and speed in his hands. He’s used his striking to earn an alarming 20 knockout victories throughout his career. It’s no secret that he’ll come into Phones 4u Arena looking to knock Pearson’s block off.
Pearson has shown to be an effective boxer, but few are on the level of Guillard. "Young Assassin " will utilize good footwork and takedown defense to keep Pearson from finding his range. Guillard won’t shy way from any exchange on the feet and he’s only been knocked out once.
Guillard’s Achilles heel has always been his submission defense. He’s tapped out nine times, so that’s an area Pearson will be looking to attack. If Guillard is successful in keeping the fight standing, he’ll prevent Pearson from locking up a hold on the ground.
It’s been quite a rollercoaster ride for Guillard the past few years, as he’s gone from the brink of title contention to potentially fighting for his job. He now finds himself training at American Top Team (ATT), his fourth team in as many years. After dramatic splits from Jackson’s MMA, the Blackzilians, and Grudge Training Center, Guillard will need to finally get settled in to have extended success in UFC.
If he shows up unfocused -- as he’s been known to do -- Pearson will have no trouble in knocking him out or submitting him. Guillard has the tools to add Pearson to his list of impressive victories, but only if he’s in full control of his mental faculties.
Record: 15-6 overall, 6-3 UFC
Key Losses: Cub Swanson (UFC on FX 4), Edson Barboza (UFC 134)
Keys to Victory: English-born Pearson is a well-rounded mixed martial artist who has won five fights by knockout, five fights by submission, and five by decision.
He’s undefeated in his latest foray at lightweight, but Guillard will be a tough out. To win in Manchester, Pearson will have to cut off his opponent’s lateral movement and beat him to the punch.
That won’t be easy against an opponent with Guillard’s speed.
If he can cut off Guillard’s angles and drag this fight down to the mat, Pearson will have a much better chance of controlling the action rather than hoping to win a slugfest on the feet. A boxing match obviously favors Guillard, but a grappling match will tip the scales in Pearson’s favor. Although Pearson isn’t exactly known for his high-level jiu-jitsu skills, he has shown knowledge of chokes.
Those have often been Guillard’s kryptonite, so Pearson will be well served to look for the tapout early and often.
Earning a knockout over Guillard will be nigh impossible, but Pearson has full confidence in his striking skills. It would still be a big surprise if "Real Deal" ends this fight on the feet. Pearson was able to knock out Sotiropoulos and Couture with relative ease, though Guillard is a different monster altogether.
Pearson could be on the verge of something special if he proves himself with a win over an experienced veteran like Guillard. On the other hand, a loss would be devastating because it would stall his momentum yet again.
Bottom Line from Manchester: The bottom line of this fight is that will be a proving ground for each fighter to sink or swim in a tough division. Both Guillard and Pearson have been through the highs and lows of MMA, though they haven’t exactly fared well against elite competition.
The winner here will earn another chance at a top-level fighter and it may be their last chance at glory. As always, Guillard is a huge question mark due to his wildcard personality. After so many team changes, one has to wonder where his head is. If he’s found a new home at ATT, we could finally see "Young Assassin" live up to his massive potential. If not, he could continue to be a disappointment that never lived up to the considerable hype.
Pearson will have the full support of his home fans behind him. In a bout of this magnitude, this should serve to motivate him. "Real Deal" can’t let his emotions get the best of him and get lured into a brawl that will favor Guillard. He’ll need to keep his wits about him and look to control Guillard on the ground. If he can, he’ll notch the biggest win of his career in front of his English brethren.
Melvin Guillard vs. Ross Pearson has the potential to deliver a "Fight of the Night"-winning show. Which lightweight is your pick to walk out of Phones 4u Arena on top? Let us know below!