The dust had barely settled on his latest victim before Melvin Guillard turned his attention to a new target. Enter Jeremy Stephens.
Guillard crumpled Bellator Fighting Championships veteran Waylon Lowe with a brutal knee to the body in their preliminary lightweight matchup at UFC 114 “Rampage vs. Evans” on May 29 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Now, he desires a dance with “Lil’ Heathen.”
“That’s the guy I want,” Guillard told the Sherdog Radio Network’s Savage Dog Show. “I think that would be a great fight for me. I really want to fight that guy.”
The 24-year-old Stephens, a heavy shoot-from-the-hip puncher, has won back-to-back fights and earned a split decision over Sam Stout at UFC 113 last month. His 2008 knockout against Rafael dos Anjos has become a staple of UFC highlight reels.
“I want to fight exciting fighters,” Guillard said. “He’s a good guy. I have no grudge against him or anything. I have a lot of respect for him as a fighter. I think he has a lot of punching power, and I think he’ll give me a run for my money. I’ll respect him as a person, but as a fighter, I don’t think he’s a better fighter than me.”
Enjoying a renaissance of sorts under the wing of famed trainer Greg Jackson and his many disciples, Guillard has won five of his last six bouts. Now based at Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts in Albuquerque, N.M., he has begun to fulfill his potential.
“It’s definitely been a life-changing experience,” Guillard said. “I’m at a great gym full of great guys and great girls. Everybody’s so supportive. Coach Greg and coach [Mike] Winkeljohn have really put the time and effort behind me, [which is] something I’ve been looking for for a long time. That was the biggest thing in my career I was searching for.
“I can’t deal with people that are selfish,” he added. “When everybody’s there [and] can help each other, that’s something you look forward to.”
Guillard, a 27-year-old New Orleans native, believes the potential reward in fighting someone like Stephens far outweighs the risk. Neither man has ever been knocked out.
“I know for a fact it will be a knock-down, drag-out brawl of a fight,” Guillard said. “That’s what they want in the UFC. I would rather fight a guy like that and take that chance at a guy having knockout ability than to fight another black belt jiu-jitsu guy that’s just going to lay on me, not do anything and make the fight boring.”