You have to genuinely like Melvin Guillard’s approach to fighting. If he can’t get a title fight, he’ll keep fighting and winning until he gets one. Looking at his career resurgence, which began when he was cut from the UFC in 2007 and has resulted in an 8-1 run to title contendership, Guillard has made a case for a title shot but has done one thing few fighters do: continually take fights to prove it.
He could’ve waited for the Maynard/Edgar fallout to resolve itself and wait for a title shot after stopping Evan Dunham but he did what many professional athletes do: he bet on himself to outperform and so far has further established himself in the division as someone on the short list to get a title shot. After stopping Shane Roller in impressive fashion, Guillard takes on what could be an exclamation point to a fight against the winner of Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard in Joe Lauzon.
Lauzon made a remarkable statement upon his entrance into the UFC. Brought in to face Jenz Pulver as a top prospect on the regional circuit, Lauzon shocked everyone involved by stopping the lightweight trail blazer in a minute. Going on to put in a respectable showing on “The Ultimate Fighter,” Lauzon has had a fairly unremarkable stint in the company despite being perhaps the best prospect to be on the show.
While fellow show contestant Gray Maynard will fight for the lightweight title the same night Lauzon does, and Nate Diaz seems to have found a home in the division, Lauzon has managed to beat everyone who was a fringe candidate to be in the UFC while losing to anyone ahead of him in the pecking order (Kenny Florian, Sam Stout and George Sotiropoulos). He’s the ultimate gatekeeper; anyone with discernable talent on their way up will beat him and those who will most likely never hit the Top 10 won’t.
It makes the fight between the two a bit of a curiosity; Lauzon is a step back for Guillard, career wise, but it wasn’t Lauzon that demanded the fight. It was Guillard, appropriately enough, who wanted the fight after stopping Roller. Wanting someone willing to stand and go to war (so to speak) with him, Guillard is in a unique position with the fight. If he wins, and does so dramatically and violently, he’ll have just made a statement for the winner of Edgar/Maynard. How will he do it?
The best guess would be a violent knockout.
Lauzon is a submission grappler who thrives on the ground. He has good, but not great, standup and is capable of finishing a fight on his feet but is much stronger on the ground. His goal will most likely to get top control on Guillard and neutralize his striking power. Guillard has been submitted before by guys with equal abilities on the ground as Lauzon and that’ll be where he can win the fight. He has good but not great striking; Lauzon doesn’t do anything at an elite level and isn’t a Rich Franklin type that takes this sort of “jack of all trades, master of none” motif to the top. He can take down fighters with weak defense in that area but won’t get anyone down who has any strong experience in that regard.
He also tends to gas fairly early, as well, as he tends to be at his best for the first round and maybe the opening minute of the second but fades fast shortly thereafter. If he’s going to win this fight it’ll have to be a finish and happen in the first. Most likely it’ll be a choke or an armbar, something on the more bland variety but done with expert precision. He doesn’t pull off anything spectacular but he’s vicious with the more standard submission moves; don’t expect an inverted flying triangle to come from him but a slick guard pass into a deep arm bar isn’t out of the question. But getting Guillard to that point might be more than Lauzon can handle.
Guillard mainly has to survive that opening flurry and use his bread and butter: powerful wrestling and even more powerful strikes. He’s a first rate wrestler with no problems on the mat but “The Young Assassin” has devastating power on his feet and in his ground and pound game that’ll end up winning him this fight. Guillard hits hard from every phase and Lauzon can’t get into any exchanges with him that extend further than a brief moment.
If Lauzon wants to stand and throw down with the potential lightweight title contender in a sloppy brawl he will be carried out of the cage.
Guillard has stopped people with better chins; he has the best hands in the division in terms of stopping power. Gray Maynard may use his punches to set up his takedowns better, and Frankie Edgar may have the best pure boxing, but no one has the sheer one punch knockout power that Guillard has. That’ll be the difference in the fight; Lauzon has a good ground game but getting Guillard down on the ground and into a less than advantageous position might be out of his realm. If he can do that he has a chance at winning. If he doesn’t it’ll be a matter of when, not if, Guillard stops him.
Tags: Joe Lauzon, Melvin Guillard, Mixed Martial Arts, UFC, UFC 136