Melvin Guillard (right) | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Although Evan Dunham is widely recognized as a top-10 lightweight talent, Melvin Guillard believes originally scheduled opponent Yves Edwards would have been a more difficult matchup Saturday at UFC “Fight for the Troops 2.”
“I think the Yves Edwards fight was a tougher fight for me because he’s a longtime friend and mentor,” Guillard explained recently on the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Savage Dog Show.” “To me Yves Edwards is a legend in this sport. He’s a [lightweight] that’s paid his dues. He’s making a comeback run at it and he’s dangerous.”
Edwards isn’t near Dunham’s No. 10 lightweight ranking, but Guillard said his friend and former sparring partner knows his game. The matchup fell through when Kenny Florian, Dunham’s opponent, was injured. Guillard was then moved into the main event against Dunham.
“When I got the call that I was going to be the main event and they moved me, it was a little less nerve wracking for me,” Guillard said. “I was a little bit nervous taking the Yves Edwards fight.”
Guillard made a point to call his opponent dangerous, but he does not think Dunham should be ranked ahead of him.
“He’s going to be a big stepping stone for me,” Guillard said. “Him being ranked above me, I kind of shy away from that. I don’t feel he [should be] ranked above me. I paid my dues in the UFC. He’s just coming into the UFC. He had a couple of tough fights, but I’ve been in the game of MMA for 15 years. … He hasn’t fought anybody like me.”
Dunham is an impressive 4-1 in the UFC, with his only loss coming to Sean Sherk via a decision many believe Dunham deserved to win. Guillard isn’t worried about him, though. He thinks the concern should be in Dunham’s camp.
“I feel I’m the [lightweight] everybody worries about,” Guillard said. “I think when these guys get phone calls from Joe Silva or Dana [White] and they say, ‘Hey, we want you to fight Melvin Guillard,’ I think guys panic. I honestly think guys fear fighting me because I’m so athletic and they don’t know what’s going to happen. If you look at all my fights, none of them are the same. I explode from anywhere. It’s hard to train for a guy like me. If he’s banking all his money on he’s going to submit me, then it’s going to be a long night for Evan Dunham.”
Guillard credits the Greg Jackson camp for his confidence on the ground. He’s won three straight in the UFC and looks like a different fighter since joining the team.
“Normally when I would hit the mat under a guy that’s a good jiu-jitsu artist, I would freak out and panic,” Guillard said. “I would try to make something happen out of nothing and then get tapped. Now I’m so poised and so calm. I don’t worry because guys can’t tap me unless I let them tap me. … When you have a stable of guys that are as good as the guys that we have in our gym, it helps me get through that [habit] of saying, ‘I think this guy might beat me.’ I don’t feel anybody at 155 can beat me. I feel that I am the best fighter at 155.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 1:32:20) with Guillard, who also discussed his strategy in the Jeremy Stephens fight and the changes he’s made in his life.