(Nearly a decade later, Guillard’s shit-talking abilities and penchant for poor hairstyle choices remain among the best in all of MMA. Never change, Melvin. Never change.)
I remember the first time I saw a Melvin Guillard fight. I was watching one of those Ultimate Knockouts compilations — you know, the ones hosted by Kerri Kasem (mmm…) that aired on Spike every now and again — and one of the featured fights was Guillard vs. Rick Davis at UFC 60: Hughes vs. Gracie. It was Guillard’s third fight in the UFC following his stint on The Ultimate Fighter 2 in 2005, although at just 21 years of age, Guillard had already built up a wealth of fight experience unmatched by some of the most tested veterans of the game, his older opponent included. It was also the most violent knockout I had ever witnessed at the time, a Laprise vs. Johnson-esque, “Did he died?” moment if there ever was one, made all the more horrifying by my misunderstanding that the “Thong Song” dude was responsible for it.
Some eight years, ten wins, and a UFC record eight TKO’s later, Guillard remains a terror for any poor soul unfortunate enough to draw him for their promotional debut. The problem is, as Guillard’s level of competition gradually rose, his win percentage began to steadily decline. After stringing together a five fight winning streak between 2010-11 (the longest of his UFC career), Guillard would be quickly submitted by Joe Lauzon and Jim Miller, knocked out by Donald Cerrone, and upended by Jamie Varner and Michael Johnson in a pair of lackluster decisions, only scoring wins over Fabricio Camoes and the now-retired Mac Danzig in between.
Dana White was especially critical of Guillard’s most recent performance against Johnson, telling reporters, “There’s no doubt Melvin ran the entire fight and was incredibly passive, the complete opposite of how he used to fight.” And today, MMAFighting passed along word that after nine years with the promotion, Guillard has been released by the UFC. His official octagon record stands at 12-9.
It’s been a long, arduous road for the oft troubled, always entertaining (save the Varner and Johnson fights) lightweight, one that has included the highs of headlining a UFC event (four, actually) and the lows of testing positive for cocaine after being quickly defeated in one of those headlining events. In many respects, Guillard was the lightweight version of Chris Leben: a hard-hitting, fearless TUF veteran (when it mattered) who turned to MMA not only out of natural ability, but to escape some personal demons of his own.
Regardless of how you feel about Guillard on a personal level, “The Young Assassin” deserves his due credit for being one of the UFC’s most battle-ready, not to mention memorable staples of the lightweight division. That he remained employed longer than 90% of his peers in a business as cutthroat as MMA, seeing countless alums from countless incarnations of the show that launched his career come and go in the process, truly speaks to his abilities as a fighter and an entertainer.
We’re confident that a brash, exciting fighter like Guillard will quickly be swooped up by either Bellator or WSOF, but on behalf of everyone at CagePotato, I’d like to personally thank Guillard for the years of sacrifice, bravado, and brutal, just absolutely terrifying knockouts he turned in while under the UFC banner. Here’s to you, Melvin.