A Loss For The Young Assassin Would Kill Any Hopes Of Staying With The UFC

By Raphael Garcia

It’s not a secret that being a UFC fighter is a tough career to maintain. Between training and fighting in front of millions of people multiple times a year, “stressful” may not be the best term to use when describing it. However, nearly every individual that competes within MMA pines for the opportunity to step into the Octagon. This is why losing that position becomes that much more painful to those who are removed from the organization. We’ve seen our share of cuts in 2012, and after this weekend another fighter rests on the edge of that cliff.

The last 14 months have been very difficult for Melvin Guillard’s MMA career. Going into his bout with Joe Lauzon at UFC 136, Guillard was riding a five-fight win streak, and many people thought of him as a potential contender for the lightweight title in 2012. In less than one minute, the wheels would come off of that truck, however, as Lauzon caught him rushing in and finished him off with yet another submission. That was just the beginning of the downward spiral that has seen Guillard lose three of his last four fights, with his one victory of 2012 — a decision victory over Fabricio Camoes — less than impressive. Going into this weekend’s UFC event, there’s no certainty about his future on the roster.

And yet, this isn’t the first time that Guillard has been in this position. Back in 2007, Guillard suffered two straight losses to Joe Stevenson and Rich Clementi. After substance abuse problems and an incident after the loss to Clementi, he was released from the organization. While he was brought back in under than a year, Guillard understands what it is like to be cut from the biggest promotion in the sport. Since that release, his career has been a roller coaster that is truly dropping down at this point. Many people may point towards leaving Greg Jackson’s camp — which Guillard has admitted to missing — as the cause for this current downturn, but regardless of whether that is true or not, now is the time for the “Young Assassin” to turn this around.

In Jamie Varner he’s facing a fighter that also understands what it is like to be on top and have the ground fall out from under him. At one point in time, he was the WEC lightweight champion and considered a top fighter at 155. Since then, calling his career “less than stellar” would be an understatement. He was unable to win a bout in 2010, and was one of the main casualties from the WEC roster when the organization was merged into the UFC. While he rebounded by going 4-1 outside of the Octagon, many people point towards his one loss, to Dakota Cochrane, as a low point, because of the way he was dominated by the former gay porn performer. When he stepped in at the last minute to face Edson Barboza at UFC 146, he was an underdog that pulled off quite possibly the upset of the year. The good fortune would stop, however, as he was defeated by Lauzon a few months later at UFC on Fox 4. Varner may not be in the same position as Guillard when it comes to being cut from the UFC with a bad showing, but there’s little doubt that the voice in the back of his head may have him thinking otherwise.

Guillard and Varner are two fighters who stand behind their boxing. They are technical and accurate with a majority of the strikes they throw, with the proof being how they have finished opponents. Guillard has immense power in his strikes, but he’s going up against a fighter that has never been knocked out in his nearly ten year career. We’ve also seen Guillard drop his hands and allow his opponents to land shots, and against Varner, that may be a one-way trip to the unemployment line.

Both fighters have a strong set of defensive wrestling abilities, and that is a captivating aspect of this fight. Varner, however, has finished 11 of his 20 victories by submission, so even though he is well known for boxing with opponents, do not be surprised if he takes this fight to the ground to take advantage of the glaring hole in Guillard’s game. Melvin showed that he is improving at defensive grappling when he was able to deal with Camoes’s multiple attempts, and he may have to resort to a similar level of defense and caution in this bout.

Melvin Guillard vs. Jamie Varner is a fight that has the potential to be the fight of the weekend, as it will feature two fighters who, while relatively young, are long-term veterans of the sport. They both know what it means to compete on the biggest stage of MMA, and want to keep their spots on the roster. In what could provide a career-defining moment for these individuals, this fight has all the skill and back story to make it a must watch.

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