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UFC 155 early 'Fight of The Night' pick: Melvin Guillard vs Jamie Varner

With Jamie Varner falling ill before his The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 16 Finale bout with Melvin Guillard, their fight was rescheduled for UFC 155, which takes place tonight (Dec. 29, 2012) -- just two weeks after the original booking. Leading up to the TUF 16 Finale fight card, I called this match up the most likely to win "Fight of the Night" honors ... and that hasn't changed even though the date and location have.

Photo by Esther Lin for

Two weeks ago, I laid out my reasoning for Melvin Guillard vs. Jamie Varner to win "Fight of the Night" honors at The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 16 Finale. Though the bout has been moved to this Saturday's UFC 155 fight card from Las Vegas, Nevada, I still feel it is a front runner for this event, too, even with great competing fights like Joe Lauzon vs. Jim Miller, John Moraga vs. Chris Cariaso and Eddie Wineland vs. Brad Pickett, among others, featured on the mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion's year-end fight card.

As I initially pointed out, the fight between Guillard and Varner will be contested heavily on the feet, with "C-4" the more likely fighter of the two to initiate a ground exchanges. With two heavy hitters with great footwork and speed, this fight is likely to be a fast-paced slugfest that will get the MGM Grand Garden Arena crowd on its feet.

Melvin Guillard, a huge power puncher who now prides himself on a Dutch-style approach to kickboxing, is a man few would want to take a punch from. His footwork and explosive movement provide chilling moments for his opponents because at one point he may be half-way across the Octagon and the next his fist is on a collision course with their faces.

His wrestling, too, is a key component in this fight. Not so much offensively, but in stopping Varner's takedowns. Guillard has terrific hips -- a very valuable skill in any form of grappling -- and he is agile when opponents try to take him down or even when he's on top. He uses his athletic ability and wrestling/judo technique to effectively neutralize takedown attempts, keeping him in his preferred area of the fight: striking.

Varner, like Guillard, is a fighter whose striking relies not only on handspeed and power, but on lightning quick blitzes he uses to go on the attack. Varner does possess knockout power, though perhaps not in the same magnitude of Guillard's. He has shown to be a terrific counter puncher as well as an offensive striker, as noted in his recent mauling of noted striker Edson Barboza.

In this fight, Varner has more likelihood than Guillard to press the action to the ground, as his offensive wrestling is a tool he regularly uses. He shoots strong, quick shots, putting opponents into bad positions before bringing them to their backs. His top game is punishing, as he rains down blows to opponents, while advancing position, too. He also mixes in submission attempts -- albeit not very often -- but he has also shown a susceptibility to being submitted from the bottom as well.

For a more in-depth look at the most exciting aspects of their respective games, see my first look at this fight before the TUF 16 Finale here.

An interesting part of this fight that didn't exist prior to it's movement to UFC 155 was the heated tension that Guillard will bring in to the match up come fight time. With Varner's apparent illness and accusations of Guillard greasing, "Young Assassin" seems on edge and ready to get his hands on Jamie Varner, for whom he now has lost all respect.

Not only is Guillard mad about the greasing accusations from Varner's camp, he is also fired up because he claims that Varner didn't fight him on Dec. 15, 2012, because he was scared ... not ill. With the fire behind him, we may see Guillard on his A-game or we may see him at a competitive, over-aggressive disadvantage.

Indeed, Guillard can be suppressed and consumed by mental blocks when it comes to fight time. With the added emotion, this can make or break his performance because he may be too riled up to bring forth his most concerted effort. At the same time, the last person you want swinging punches at your face is an angry Melvin Guillard, so the rage behind his attack may help him forcibly remove Varner's consciousness -- something no man has done to him in his professional career.

With an already existent battle for relevancy in this Lightweight match, Guillard's fire will add even more drama to the mix. I doubt he'll want to give up, and the performance he puts forward can potentially bring him to new heights in his career. Varner, a tenacious competitor in his own right, will fight tooth and nail with Guillard, even if his head is nearly off his shoulders.

The added beef in this match up can mean only one thing, which is more heat and frantic excitement, translating into possibly the UFC 155 "Fight of the Night."

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