With the fresh transfusion of WEC 155-ers, the UFC’s lightweight division is deep enough that guys like Melvin Guillard can win seven of eight fights and barely register as a blip on the radar. The problem starts with the bottleneck situation at the top, with Gray Maynard and Frankie Edgar still with a score to settle and then a backfile of compelling cases like Guillard, his training partner Clay Guida, Jim Miller, Ben Henderson, Anthony Pettis, Dennis Siver and wild cards like Strikeforce’s Gilbert Melendez.
What’s the UFC to do? According to the always vociferous Guillard, it’s time to break out the brackets.
“I honestly felt after the [Evan] Dunham fight that it was going to move me a lot higher,” Guillard told ESPN.com ahead of his UFC 132 bout with Shane Roller. “But they’re still ranking guys like Dennis Siver ahead of me, and I knocked this chump out in less than two minutes. He even called me out again, trying to fight me again.
“But a lot of fights aren’t making sense, and I don’t really have a choice [but to fight Roller] because of the traffic jam with the weight class. Edgar and Maynard still haven’t fought again, so right now everybody’s at a standstill. The only solution I see is them doing a 155-pound grand prix tournament, and putting everybody in brackets and weeding the losers to giving a true No. 1 contender a fight here in the next year or so.”
Guillard filled in for an injured Kenny Florian back in January at the UFC’s Fight for the Troops card in Killeen, Texas, and soundly beat Evan Dunham via a first round TKO. He wanted to fight perennial contender Jim Miller next, but the fight didn’t materialize. Then there was the thing with Florian calling him out before he defected to 145, which peeved Guillard enough that even now he welcomes that challenge in any weight class.
“I never thought it mattered to fight Kenny, because he has fought for the title a couple of times, and obviously he hasn’t been the champion, so that tells you a lot about him as a fighter. He’s a great guy, but as a fighter he kind of chokes in the big show. So at that point, if he was asking to fight me, obviously I must be doing something right. I was like, alright, I’ll fight him. So I called Dana up and asked for the fight, but then Dana tells me, ‘kid, I like your enthusiasm, but Kenny’s going to 145.’
“If that fight came back around and they asked me to fight Kenny again and he came back up to 155 or I went down to 145 -- that’s definitely a fight I’m going to be asking for in the future.”
So right now he has the heavy-handed Roller next, one of the WEC imports who is looking to declare himself against Guillard. Roller (10-3) is coming off a big knockout of Thiago Tavares in his UFC debut back in March and has that collegiate wrestling pedigree and a little twinkle to his name. The matchup is compelling insofar as any Guillard pairing is (the potential for flash knockout is there) -- but you can spare Guillard the chintzy details.
“Shane Roller likes to come forward and because he’s a wrestler he reaches a lot, and that’s the kind of guy that’s tailor-made to be knocked out,” he said. “But this Roller fight really doesn’t make any sense for my movement, as far as moving me up the ladder,” he said. “I’m going in there to knock Shane Roller out, but it does nothing for my stats.
“Honestly, you guys and all the fans are going to be like, ‘well, we kind of knew that was going to happen ... why was Shane Roller even in the cage with Melvin?’ So it’s just one of those fights where, for me, it doesn’t make any sense ... but it always makes sense when you’re in there to make a paycheck. As far as I’m concerned that’s all it’s going to do for me is bless me with another paycheck. But as far as moving me up the rankings and making me more elite? I don’t think that’s going to do anything.”