Melvin Guillard had been nothing short of dreadful recently, compiling an awful record (1-4) in his last five mixed martial arts (MMA) matches, which included back-to-back defeats to Donald Cerrone at UFC 150 and Jamie Varner at UFC 155 heading into his showdown with Mac Danzig last night (July 27, 2013) at UFC on Fox 8.
On top of it all, "Young Assassin" parted ways with Blackzilian camp in South Florida and was denied re-entry into Jackson-Winkeljohn because of lingering assault charges in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
With his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) career potentially on the line in Seattle, Wash., Guillard made the hard decision to abandon life as he knew it, including family members, and fly out to Grudge Training Center in Denver, Colorado. It was a "sacrifice" that ultimately paid off in spades the moment Guillard registered a savage "Knockout of the Night"-winning performance over Mac Danzig in the second round of their Lightweight showdown inside KeyArena.
The former Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 2 explains his dire preparation:
"This fight was different -- I had four months to prepare. I lived in a basement in Denver, Colo., for four months. I guess you can say I got the eye of the tiger sleeping in that basement on a toy mattress, giving up my king-sized bed at home. My wife stayed home in Florida, so, being away from her you make those sacrifices. Every day that I was there was important to me. I came here, down to altitude, and I couldn't even make myself tired if I wanted to. I give all the credit to Team Grudge right now."
In addition to the fighting and legal struggles, Guillard apparently endured a perfect storm of sorts when he learned that his paternal grandmother past away just one week prior to fight night.
With his back against the wall, Guillard made the difficult decision to miss the funeral so that it did not interfere with perhaps the most important bout of his life.
Choking back tears, he rationalized:
"It was hard to [stay focused]. I missed my grandmother's funeral on Tuesday because I had to be here -- it was my dad's mom. And, of course, I lost my dad in 2006. So, it was tough not being home to be at the funeral and, right now, my little sister is battling a brain injury. She's getting ready to have her first surgery of many, we don't know. All those things go through your mind, but I have to continue to keep my job in the UFC because I'm not going to get paid anywhere else like I get paid here. Right now, my family needs me more than ever before, and if it's financially, then I'm going to be that blessing. I think my family understood why I needed to be here and tonight I showed them why I had to miss the funeral."
Guillard earned $50,000 in bonus money in addition to his base salary, which should hopefully take a little sting out of the personal wounds. It will certainly go a long way toward helping cover whatever costs are associated with either tragedy. But, he is not about to sit back and relax.
On the contrary, Guillard is eager to get back in the Octagon at UFC 166, which takes place in his hometown of Houston, Texas, on Oct. 19, 2013, and erase the haunting submission loss to Joe Lauzon that happened inside Toyota Center back in 2011.
And, more than likely, keep his mind off of everything else besides fighting the good fight.