Melvin Guillard spent a week with Rashad Evans in Florida. | Photo: Dave Mandel
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts representative Melvin Guillard broke from routine ahead of UFC 136, briefly leaving the New Mexico camp to train at Imperial Athletics in Boca Raton, Fla. The South Florida gym became a prominent player on the MMA scene when former light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans left Jackson’s to join forces with a group that now calls itself the “Blackzilians.”
Former EliteXC heavyweight champion Antonio Silva, UFC veteran Danillo Villefort, onetime Sengoku Raiden Championship middleweight titleholder Jorge Santiago, Anthony Johnson, “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 12 finalist Michael Johnson and Gesias Cavalcante are among the prominent fighters who have called the facility home. Glenn Robinson, who manages both Guillard and Evans, convinced the talented lightweight to make the trip to Florida for a week.
There, Guillard -- who meets Joe Lauzon at UFC 136 on Saturday in Houston -- honed his kickboxing and reunited with Evans, his housemate on Season 2 of “The Ultimate Fighter.” Evans figures to challenge Guillard’s Jackson’s MMA teammate, UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, in the near future.
“I know a lot of people look at it like, ‘How are you at Jackson’s and you train with Rashad?’ Well, Rashad’s been like a brother to me since Season 2,” Guillard told Sherodg.com. “Jon ... he’s my boy, he’s my teammate. I stay out of their beef, and I keep myself neutral to everything. For everybody that don’t know, that’s what it is. I still love Rashad like a brother, and I love Jon like a teammate. There are gonna be other times when I’m gonna go to Imperial, and I’m probably gonna train there again.”
While Mike Winkeljohn, Guillard’s striking coach at Jackson’s MMA, was not necessarily pleased with the manner in which the 28-year-old was lured to Imperial Athletics, he supports his fighter’s journey as it relates to learning new skills.
“You always care about them wanting to wheel and deal their way into your fighter’s heart through offers or different things to make [him] work out with them,” Winkeljohn said. “I just told Melvin, ‘You know what, go learn some new stuff.’ I got no problem with it as long as he learns something, and he comes back and shows you what he learned -- because we don’t know it all.”
Guillard (29-8-2, 1 NC) plans to continue to do whatever it takes to improve. So far, no serious conflicts have arisen.
“Until it presents a problem as far as my coaching goes, then I’ll deal with it when it comes,” he says. “I’m my own boss; my coaches work for me, so it’s whatever I choose that I want to do to be successful in this game. I’m going to take those options.”