Melvin Guillard (top) may be the most physically talented lightweight in the UFC. | Photo: Dave Mandel
Three lightweight bouts are on the undercard, so the UFC 132 “Cruz vs. Faber 2” prelims on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas should help shake out the 155-pound division.
With the red-hot Melvin Guillard taking on former WEC stalwart and three-time NCAA All-American wrestler Shane Roller, fireworks figure to fly. Throw in George Sotiropoulos-Rafael dos Anjos and Anthony Njokuani-Andre Winner, and it becomes a pretty stout preliminary lineup. Also scheduled are a pair of bantamweight fights and a middleweight clash pitting Aaron Simpson against the unbeaten Brad Tavares.
Let us have a closer look.
Melvin Guillard (27-8-2, 1 NC, 9-4 UFC) vs. Shane Roller (10-3, 1-0 UFC)
The Matchup: Often entering fights to the much-hackneyed “really serious this time” tagline, Guillard is the most physically talented lightweight in the UFC. Nobody can match his combination of high-level wrestling and punishing standup; mental mistakes and lack of focus have been his biggest problems.
With destructive strikes and solid wrestling, Guillard is a handful for anyone, particularly foes that are forced to stand and trade with him. His numbing stoppage of Evan Dunham at UFC “Fight for the Troops 2” in January was the best performance of his career and once again tempted fans to contemplate what a focused Guillard could do in the stacked UFC lightweight division.
Roller is coming off a gutsy comeback knockout win over Thiago Tavares in a fight where he was being picked apart and seemingly en route to a bad beating at UFC Live 3. To his credit, the three-time NCAA All-American wrestler from Oklahoma State University kept plugging away, driving home an out-of-nowhere right hand to win the fight.
Roller’s standup remains pretty raw, as he often holds his hands in bad positions while in striking range. Technique-wise, Guillard is a textbook striker. Roller has to get this fight to the ground, and he will need to cross one hell of a dangerous moat to do it. Guillard’s upper-body strength and balance make him exceptionally spry and difficult to put on the mat, and he excels in punishing opponents trying to transition from one stuffed takedown attempt into another.
The Pick: There is the possibility that Roller could score a few takedowns and ride them out to a decision, but Guillard’s got too many chances to land a fight-changing bomb, and he will do just that after Roller gets discouraged and roughed up early; Guillard by third-round knockout.
Continue Reading » Next Fight: Rafael dos Anjos vs. George Sotiropoulos