When Melvin Guillard steps into the cage to face Brandon Girtz at Bellator 141, the 13-year veteran will have fought for the three major fight promotions in mixed martial arts (MMA).
Guillard, 32, fought in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) from Nov. 2005 until he was released in March 2014 after losing to Michael Johnson. He finished out last year fighting for World Series of Fighting (WSOF), where he went 1-1, was pulled from a card and then asked for his outright release.
"Young Assassin" is one of the few who will be able to say he's fought in UFC, Bellator and WSOF, but that accomplishment hasn't dawned on him until now.
"I never even really thought about that until you just said it, but you are right," Guillard told MMAmania.com recently. "I’ve always been gifted and I’ve always had opportunities and now I have a great opportunity with Bellator and I want to make the best of it. And right now, I really want to get to being a world champion. That’s my focus and that’s my time. And I really want to be able to fight as much as I can because the more I fight the better I am."
However, there is a bit of a roadblock in the way of Guillard fighting for a Bellator title: His American Top Team teammate -- and current Bellator MMA Lightweight champion -- Will Brooks. Guillard fought a teammate once when he fought Donald Cerrone while then a member of Jackson's MMA.
That is not something he wants to go through again at this stage of his career.
"Me and Will are teammates," Guillard said. "We are training partners and we are friends. I’m not looking forward to fighting Will because I don’t want to have that kind of vibe in the gym, you know? We have a family type of vibe, everybody is cool. Everybody gets along for the most part . We all train together. So, for me, I can be No. 2 until Will either retires or something goes wrong. I’m okay with that. Right now I want to be in Bellator and make as much money as I can.
"I want to fight a lot and there are a lot of other guys I can fight until something spectacular or crazy or some kind weird event happens and somebody else ends up with the belt. I’m not trying to wish any bad luck on Will. I want him to be a champ for a long time. I’m going to sit it out. In the past I used to always be like ‘I’ll fight anybody. I’ll fight my teammates.’ When I fought Cowboy, me and him were good friends and it just didn’t sit right with me after the fight. You know what I’m saying? I was like ‘damn, we really ended up having to do this.’ I don’t want to fight any of my friends. As of now, I don’t have any friends in Bellator but Will, so everybody else is ok and fair game."
If it came down to it and Bellator wanted to make the fight happen, Guillard said he woudn't agree to it without sitting down with Brooks and discussing it with his friend first.
"Of course. That is the right thing to do," he said. "He is my teammate. We train together. We in the gym right next to each other all the time. If me and him came to an agreement and thought it was cool to do it, then, yeah, we would do it. But, other than that, I'm not even thinking about it."
Before a title fight can even be brought into the conversation, Guillard has to get past Minnesota native, Girtz (11-4), first. He thinks they "match up very well" against each other, and based on his history of fights against opponents with a similar style, he says it should make for good action.
"He's a very aggressive wrestler-type, brawler-type guy," Guillard said. "He likes to come forward. You can check my history, a lot of guys that come forward like that, I've had good success of knocking them out. So, I'm very happy about this fight with him. I'm very confident going into this fight."
Guillard's style is something that fight fans have enjoyed over the years and one of the reasons he is still in the game and heading into his 49th career fight. The owner of 21 career knockouts reminds everyone why his brand of fighting has worked so well for him for well over a decade.
"I'm an aggressive fighter," Guillard said. "I hit hard. I'm very explosive. I can knock someone out from anywhere. I can be backing up or moving forward. That's a gift I've had for a long time. That's something I have over a lot of fighters. I haven't seen any other fighters that have the talent that I have as far as natural ability. Plus, once I hit people, their game plans go out the window and they change their minds about a lot of things. Once I land that first shot, we'll see if he continues to come forward."
The Louisiana native's phrase was very similar to the one made famous by Mike Tyson, when the iconic boxer was mowing down his competition in his heyday. Guillard remembers it quite well and said, "everybody has a game plan until they get hit."
With almost 50 fights under his belt in a young man's sport, Guillard isn't worried about his age just yet. "I take good care of myself," he says, before adding the reason why," I gotta keep this eight pack sexy so my wife will stay with me."
At 32, he's not dedicating any time to dwelling on his mortality as a fighter. He's still enjoying the ride.
"I don’t really think about that, man," he admits," because when I was in my 20's everybody was telling me ‘well you are going to be better in your 30's because that’s when you are in your prime and you are getting your man strength.’ Now that I’m in my 30's, everybody is like, ‘well, you are getting up there in age.’ They are talking as if I’m about to turn 40.
"I’m like, ‘dude, I’m 32. I got a lot more time left.’ I have a decent amount of time and I don’t really take a lot of damage in the ring or in practice. So, I’ve never had any major injuries — God bless me that I don’t get injured — and I’ve always stayed healthy. In fights I barely get touched by guys. I’m not really worried about age. To me, that’s not even a topic that matters right now. I feel like I’m in my prime and right now I can make my move to be a world champion."