Donald Cerrone (18-4, 5-1 UFC) vs. Melvin Guillard (30-10-2, 11-6 UFC)
The Matchup: Cerrone lobbied hard for a spot on the UFC 150 bill in his native Colorado before Guillard -- his former teammate at Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts in Albuquerque, N.M. -- stepped up. Cerrone and Guillard spent many a day together training under the same roof, which only adds intrigue to a contest that figures to have its share of spirited standup exchanges.
Guillard is the more explosive athlete, but that can be said in most of the Louisianan’s bouts. What is more important is the 29-year-old’s frame of mind. Emotions will be running high against an ex-training partner, but Guillard must be careful to guard against the mental lapses that have plagued him in the past. Overconfidence cost him in an upset loss to Joe Lauzon at UFC 136, prompting him to join forces with the Blackzilians in Boca Raton, Fla. However, Guillard fell in love with the flying knee in a January defeat to Jim Miller, and it eventually resulted in “The Young Assassin” losing via submission. More recently, Guillard demonstrated patience in a conservative victory against Fabricio Camoes at UFC 148, as he employed an efficient striking attack while escaping the submission attempts of his Brazilian opponent.
Cerrone rebounded from his loss to Nate Diaz with a clinical dissection of Jeremy Stephens in May. Despite having been in the intensive care unit for intestinal problems two weeks earlier, “Cowboy” showcased his diverse striking arsenal en route to taking a unanimous verdict.
As usual, Cerrone will want to utilize his length and movement on the feet and not allow Guillard to find his rhythm. The Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts product can do this by mixing up his kicks while landing punching combinations to the head. Guillard has extremely quick hands and serious knockout power, but Cerrone will not be intimidated by “The Ultimate Fighter 2” alum. Expect Cerrone to try and walk down his opponent, as Guillard sometimes struggles when faced with an adversary who is not afraid to press the action.
The X-factor here will be the ground game. While Guillard’s submission defense is notoriously suspect, Cerrone is comfortable working from his back and could even bait “The Young Assassin” to the mat if he gets overanxious. Cerrone’s wrestling has improved over the years, so he might look to mix in some takedowns, though Guillard has strong hips and a solid sprawl.
The Pick: Guillard too often was throwing one shot at a time against Camoes; he will pay dearly for that against a diverse striker like Cerrone. At some point, Guillard is going to get reckless, and Cerrone will get him to the floor. The “Cowboy” wins by submission in round two.
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