Brandon Girtz has a big opportunity at Bellator 141. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Minnesota transplant Brandon Girtz estimates that his arrival at Grudge Training Center in Denver came about a month or two after Melvin Guillard skipped town.
That near-miss doesn’t matter now, as Girtz will get an up-close-and-personal look at his would-be training partner at Bellator 141, when he meets “The Young Assassin” in the evening’s headliner at Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, Calif on Friday night. The nomadic Guillard, who has called Grudge, Jackson-Wink MMA and American Top Team home while competing for the UFC and World Series of Fighting in recent years, will be making his debut with the Scott Coker-led promotion.
Guillard has struggled to find consistency throughout his career. After exiting the UFC with just one victory in his last five appearances, Guillard’s WSOF tenure was characterized by his inability to make weight, including for a 155-pound title showdown with Grudge product Justin Gaethje last November. Girtz declines to elaborate about much of anything he may have heard about Guillard from the Louisianan’s time at the Colorado-based camp. Instead, he simply points out that now that Guillard is his opponent, his team would be behind him regardless of the UFC veteran’s reputation.
“There’s definitely some words said. I don’t need to throw gym talk out there, but there’s definitely been things said. I’ve heard about Melvin,” Girtz told Sherdog.com.
“There’s some positive and there’s gonna be some negative. I’m about to fight him, so people aren’t gonna be putting him out there as a sunshine dude or nothing great. That’s the game. It’s not like we’re gonna be talking all good about him.”
Guillard has both tantalized and frustrated over the course of his 50-bout professional tenure. A five-fight winning streak from February 2010 to July 2011 in the UFC put him in the lightweight contender conversation, and losses in four of his next five Octagon showings promptly removed him from that discussion.
His WSOF run ended in bizarre fashion, as he was removed from the WSOF 20 co-headliner this past April after failing to submit medicals. Shortly thereafter, Guillard was granted his release from the promotion.
While Girz has not closely tracked his foe’s ups and downs, he believes Guillard has the type of weakness he can exploit come fight night. It’s a flaw that Girz says becomes very apparent after spending a lifetime on the mat.
“He’s a guy with a ton of potential. He’s a good fighter. I kind of feel like he’s that guy who went off of his athletic ability and his talents versus hard work,” Girtz said. “Not to say he didn’t work hard, but there’s a difference. There’s a big difference. I’ve seen plenty of those people in the wrestling room that had all the talent in the world but when you push too hard, they break.”
Girtz is also aware of the hype that accompanied Guillard’s arrival to Bellator MMA. After all, the 32-year-old American Top Team representative owns signature wins over the likes of Marcus Davis, Dennis Siver, Gleison Tibau, Jeremy Stephens, Evan Dunham and Gesias Cavalcante. His 21 knockout victories suggest that a highlight-reel finish is always imminent when he is in the cage. With all that in mind, Girz embraces his underdog status.
“Melvin’s got a big name. Like I said, Scott [Coker] put him in the main event for a reason. People know the name,” Girtz said. “Whatever kind of fighter Melvin comes out there as, he’s a name...If he wins, they can play it out as ‘Melvin’s back.’ If I win, I’ve taken him out; a Bellator veteran put him out.”
Girtz, who is 11-4 as a pro and 4-2 in Bellator, is not nearly as well known. The man nicknamed “Cold Roll” plans on changing that by applying pressure on Guillard Friday night.
“Every time I’ve done good it’s because I come forward. I put the pressure on them. I fight. I’m not gonna let Melvin get started. Melvin’s that kind of guy where he gets in a groove, he’s a machine,” Girtz said. “When it’s going his way, he’s gonna be wonderful, but when it’s not going his way, he’s going to be easy to break. That’s what I feel like is going to happen.”