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WSOF 15 preview: Justin Gaethje vs. Melvin Guillard profanity-laced 'Early Exchange'

Justin Gaethje and Melvin Guillard have unfinished business heading into their co-main event bout at World Series of Fighting (WSOF) 15 this Saturday (Nov. 15, 2014). The former training partners are on opposite ends of the spectrum in their respective mixed martial arts (MMA) careers, but both are confident they will get the job done this weekend. In our latest iteration of "Early Exchange," the two co-headliners throw verbal haymakers, while noting their WSOF 15 bout has become personal.

Lucas Noonan/World Series of Fighting

Mixed martial arts (MMA) fans love pre-fight trash talk.

In order to sell fights, pre-fight hyperbole and verbal jabs have become the norm in MMA. Sometimes trash talk before a fight builds up serious animosity between the competitors, which of course leads to more interest from the fans.

The freshest rivalry in the sport right now belongs to lightweights Melvin Guillard and Justin Gaethje.

Guillard, the former perennial UFC contender who was released back in March, looks to go 2-0 under the World Series of Fighting (WSOF) banner this weekend (Sat., Nov. 15, 2014) by dispatching the undefeated Gaethje in the co-main event of WSOF 15 at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa, Florida.

Originally a five-round 155-pound title fight, the bout is now a three-round contest at a 159-pound catchweight after Guillard failed to make weight (full story here).

The former training partners turned foes have been mostly cordial leading up to their bout this weekend, but the time for friendship has passed, and the inhospitable nature of fighting has shown its face. In our latest "Early Exchange" iteration, Guillard and Gaethje pull no punches.

How both men are feeling heading into WSOF 15:

Gaethje: I feel fantastic. Obviously I grew up watching Melvin. He's been around this sport for a long time and he's done a lot of great things, so this is exactly what I need in my career right now. This win will be great for my resume. I've been working hard and I am ready to put on a show. My aspirations are just like any other fighter, I want to prove I am the best in the world. Now is my big shot, my big opportunity, and I am ready.

Guillard: I think the momentum is with me as the challenger because we are fighting in South Florida. I have been a resident of South Florida for four years now, and I got probably more than 200 people coming to the show. I am going to have the home crowd there while he is flying all the way from Denver. He will have just a handful of people there to support him, but I am bringing the whole damn neighborhood. It's going to be a home fight for the challenger. The champion is coming into hostile territory.

Guillard's comment that Gaethje is not on his level:

Guillard: Gaethje is nowhere near my level. I am an A list fighter fighting in the B league. It's like playing in the NFL for 10 years, getting cut, and playing in the remedial league for a little bit in order to get back to the A league. All the fighters in my weight class in the World Series are trying to make it to the UFC. They are trying to go where I have been, so I have a huge advantage over them. These guys are looking at me as a stepping stone and a way to get in the UFC. Now all praise to them, but I ain't losing no fight outside the UFC.

Gaethje: That's funny, man. Melvin is used to people being scared of him when they step into the cage, but Melvin knows I am not scared of him so he is trying to pump himself up by saying that. He knows damn well that's not true. He is obviously ignorant for thinking that. I know he doesn't truly think that because we've trained before. I've dropped him plenty of times. He's not going to go in there thinking he is on a different level than me. I am going to go in there and beat the shit out of Melvin Guillard.

I am 100-percent sure I belong among the best fighters in the world right now. I don't need any confidence boost for that. I've been working my entire life for this. I've been wrestling since I was four and been in competition in general. I'm not here to prove that I belong, I am here to prove I am the best. I am ready for the big fights.

Both men discuss looking for the knockout:

Guillard: That's the only way I fight. I'm not no point fighter. A lot of these fighters step off the gas when they are winning and want to edge out a victory. I am the type of fighter that is upset if my fight goes to the judges' decision. You really don't know what will happen going to the judges. You don't know what they have seen, and how they have looked at the fight. I'd rather just go out there and finish the fight. Especially as a challenger going against a champion, you have to knockout or finish the champion to become the champion. You can't take somebody's belt off an iffy decision win. Even if you do win that way you never feel like you earned it, and people will question whether you deserve it.

Gaethje: I am going in there to have a striking battle with Melvin. MMA to me is a fight, it's not wrestling. It's the farthest thing from wrestling. Say I drop Melvin. No I am not going to jump on him and submit him. I am going to make them stand his ass up and I am going to knock him out cold.

Discussing Gaethje's title fight against Nick Newell:

Guillard: No disrespect to Nick Newell, but Gaethje was getting worked by Newell for a little bit in their fight. Gaethje got dropped by a kid with half an arm. Like I said, no disrespect to Newell, because he is a good fighter, but when I looked at that fight I was like "Damn, you can't hang with me."

Gaethje: Newell is clearly not up to the level that Melvin is. Newell shouldn't have been fighting against me. I didn't want to hurt Newell. If you watch my fights before Newell I am a completely different fighter. If you watch this fight, I have no problem hurting Melvin, so you will see a different fighter. Melvin is ignorant. Who says that? Newell was 11-0, he put the time and work into it. What does Melvin know? Melvin is full of shit and he knows it.

Both men's confidence stemming from their previous training sessions:

Gaethje: I've dropped (Melvin) numerous times in training. Melvin Guillard has no heart. Melvin could hit me, and if he gets lucky and knocks me out, good for him. If he doesn't land one on me he is going to quit. He is going to fold up like we have seen him do before. With the type of pressure I bring that is what you can expect. He is not willing to die to beat me, and that's what he has to be willing to do.

I am going to make him lose all his confidence. He'll probably never fight again. He's a seasoned fighter, but he doesn't know how to carry himself like a professional. He doesn't know how to be there for the fans that support him. He's been in this sport for 13 years and still can't comprehend the fact that you can't do it by yourself, that you can't be a cocky little shit. You can't expect to talk shit and then people to like you when you do perform one out of five times. I hope he shows up, I hope he doesn't bitch out, and I hope he puts on a show with me.

Guillard: I know Justin. I train with him. I know he hits hard, but he has got to hit me first to make me drop and that is what guys don't get. I am almost impossible to hit during a fight because I keep my feet moving and I am just as quick and explosive from every angle. So I think right now he is more worried about my explosive power and me hitting him first. I know for a fact that he is very telegraphed. He throws everything hard. He doesn't try to bait himself in for a good shot, he throws everything from 0 to 100.

Both men's differing mindset coming into this fight:

Gaethje: I can't get Melvin's name out of my head. Every morning and every night I am thinking about Melvin. I want to teach Melvin a lesson. I don't like when people don't treat others with respect, and Melvin has no respect. This is personal for me, and I am ready to knock Melvin out or be knocked out to try and teach that lesson.

The hardest thing to do is make people give up on themselves. Sometimes you have to take the easy way out to win, but like I said before, Melvin isn't getting anything easy on November 15th. Melvin is getting put to sleep. That's the only way I will be satisfied. I am totally fine with going to sleep in order to put him to sleep. He deserves... He doesn't deserve anything! He is a piece of shit, and if he wants to treat people like crap but be cool in front of their faces he will pay. There is a new breed coming, and that's me. Out with the old, in with the new.

Guillard: I'm not worried about Justin, not even a little bit. Yes, he has a wrestling game, but I am also a wrestler and I have my judo. My jiu-jitsu on paper? I'm a valid blue belt, so my jiu-jitsu is better than his and I know that for a fact. If he thinks he is just going to take me down and ground and pound me, he got another thing coming. Nobody ever whooped my ass in a fight. I will say that with confidence. I've been fighting for over 20 years, and I have never gotten my ass whooped. I've lost some fights, but nobody has ever beaten me up. It ain't going to happen Saturday.

We'll find out tomorrow night!

For more news and notes -- and wild guarantees -- for WSOF 15 click here.

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