Guillard wants KO of the night

Melvin Guillard faces off against hometown hero, Ross Pearson.
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Damon Martin

Damon Martin is a veteran mixed martial arts journalist who has been covering the sport since 2004. His work has been published in CNN, Bleacher Report, MMAWeekly.com, Yahoo! Sports, UFC.com and SportsIllustrated.com. He also co-hosts The Great Debate Radio MMA podcast, and has appeared on ESPN Radio and SportsNet Radio. Follow him on Twitter.



Fighters changing training camps or managers is commonplace in MMA, but Melvin Guillard has seen more turnover in that department during the last two years than almost any competitor in the UFC.

He bounced from manager Robert Rovetta to Glenn Robinson while moving his training camp from Team Jackson in Albuquerque, New Mexico to the Blackzilians team in Florida. When that arrangement didn't work out, Guillard picked up his bags and began training in Colorado with coach Trevor Wittman, and that relationship lasted only one fight.

Now back in Florida, Guillard has begun training with the famed American Top Team while picking up new management yet again. It's been a tumultuous few months for the former Ultimate Fighter season 2 veteran, but Guillard feels he's finally settled into a groove with his new team and manager after a rocky and rough patch during the last 24 months.

"Me and Trevor (Wittman) are still great friends, he's my buddy, but things didn't work out as planned on the financial side of it," Guillard revealed when speaking to FOX Sports. "There was no bad blood, we just didn't see eye to eye as far as the payments, but we still remain great friends. There's going to be times where I cross paths with him again and go up there to Denver and get some work in with him. As far as team environment, I had other things on my agenda that I needed to take care of if you know what I mean.

"Management is very important. I'm one of those guys, I'm a very forgiving person I don't hold grudges. With Glenn (Robinson) things just didn't work out as well as I would have hoped. I feel like he wasn't working hard enough for me, like he was doing for some guys. That was a mutual agreement for me to find new management. Now I'm with First Round Management, I'm with Malki (Kawa), Jon Jones' manager and his brother and so far so good."

Now some might see Guillard's moves and believe that he's at fault for the constant fluctuations in his fighting career. The truth is according to Guillard that MMA is always an ever-changing business and adaptation is the key or career failure will soon follow.

Being a part of the UFC since 2005, Guillard has seen the promotion grow and the salaries for the fighters greatly improve but he still believes there are unrealistic expectations for what they make versus what some managers and trainers in the business want to get paid.

"It's a pretty cutthroat business," Guillard said. "It's like any other sport and I think over the last few years it's gotten worse as far as management goes, as far as coaching goes because people don't realize and I don't think some of these coaches and managers realize that we're not making that much money. If I was making that Floyd Mayweather was making or not even him, like as much as Miguel Cotto was making, any one of these pro boxers that's making decent money. If we were making decent money like these guys are and I was making a million dollars a fight, I wouldn't mind paying some of these percentages that they are asking for.

"But it's kind of hard to pay some of these percentages when you don't really make all that much money and you still have to live. I've been around this game for about 17 years now and I have nothing bad to say about management. There are a lot of good managers out there."

Now settled with a new manager and a team training camp, Guillard is only looking forward towards the future. At American Top Team, Guillard spends his days sparring with fighters like Jorge Masvidal and Robbie Lawler while picking up a ground game courtesy of coaches like Ricardo Liborio. Guillard says he's always been fickle about the people he chooses to train with over the years, but now he knows he found a great home working at the top rated gym in Coconut Creek, Florida.

"I'm very picking about who I train with. I'm not in there to see who's got the biggest nuts in the gym," Guillard said. "I'm in there to get work in and showcase my talents when the lights come on in the UFC. That's my goal. To be healthy and stay safe. I'm very careful about how I train.

"It's funny because when I was training with the Blackzilians I was skipping practice a lot, going to the golf course instead of training, you get to a point in life where you don't want to be in certain places and that's kind of how I was feeling. That's kind of part of the reason why I parted ways from the team. For me, I haven't felt that way with American Top Team. Everybody in there are freaking machines. If you come in there out of shape, you're only shooting yourself in the foot. There's no easy rounds, everybody's tough. I feel like if I'm going to get that UFC belt, this is the team to help me get there."

Before he can even contemplate fighting for UFC titles, Guillard first has to get past Ross Pearson this weekend at UFC Fight Night: Machida vs. Munoz from England. Guillard calls Pearson one of his 'favorite fighters' but that's not going to stop him from picking apart the former Ultimate Fighter winner when it comes down to game plan and strategy for the battle ahead.

On paper both fighters are strikers at heart, but Guillard says that's where the similarities end.

"I think he's tailor made for me. I'm a heavy hitter and the one thing that I see that I can say that lacks in Ross' game is his punching power," Guillard said. "He lands good, technical strikes. He's a good technical fighter, the kid is awesome with his technique.

"The only flaw I see with Ross Pearson is that he's not a heavy-handed guy. He doesn't hit as hard as me. We'll see what happens. I know everybody's looking for a stand and bang fight and I want to give them what they want. I want to go for the knockout, that's where I'm at home. I love bringing home those knockout of the night bonuses."

Guillard also knows it’s not easy to get a decision while fighting in an opponent's backyard, which is exactly where he'll land for the fight with Pearson. To ensure the judges can just take the night off, Guillard plans on cementing his win with another knockout while leaving the British fans with their jaws on the floor — just like Pearson's jaw when Guillard is finished with him.

"I'm not afraid to stand and bang with nobody. I've done banged with the best of them, and I've done knocked some of the best of them out," Guillard said. "I'm ready to go in here October 26, I'm ready to knock Ross Pearson out in his hometown."

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