MMA: Greg Jackson
Guillard is scheduled for a court date to resolve the issue on May 23, but the news had not been widely reported until last month, when an unnamed source at Guillard's former camp, Greg Jackson's MMA, revealed the charges to MMAjunkie.com.
The UFC lightweight admits he was surprised when the charges recently came to light, due to the time that has passed. In the same report, Guillard learned he wasn't welcome back at the facility in Albuquerque to train for an upcoming fight after spending the past two years with the Blackzilians team in South Florida.
"That was never hidden," Guillard told ESPN.com. "That was an incident that happened when I first got to Jackson's. To put it all out there, I'm fighting charges because I was jumped by a general manager and five security guards.
"My hands never touched anybody. There were five fans that I bought drinks for and when they saw me get jumped, they commenced to jump on the security. That's as far as I'm going to get into this. I shouldn't even be saying that much."
Guillard says he is still on good terms with members of Greg Jackson's camp and the Blackzilians. He admitted, though, he was caught off guard by the report on his legal matters.
"It's weird because that happened in early 2010 and now all of a sudden when I try to go back to Jackson's, somebody leaks out that I'm fighting assault charges," Guillard said. "I'm like, 'Wow. It's 2013.'"
The UFC veteran says he has a good attorney representing him and the issue is "all behind me." His focus now rests on a recently announced bout against Mac Danzig at a UFC on Fox event on July 27.
Guillard (30-12-2) has relocated to the Grudge Training Cener in Denver, Colo. to prepare for the bout. He's working primarily with trainers Trevor Wittman, Leister Bowling and UFC heavyweight Pat Barry.
Blackzilians manager Glenn Robinson continues to oversee Guillard's career, despite his move from the team. Guillard said a difference in mental approaches between him and the camp was the main reason for the split.
"I still love all those guys," Guillard said. "I just do think a little bit different with my training. After I do a three-month camp, I'm one of those guys who like to kick back and relax. I feel like they're building an NFL-style team. I'm just not one of those guys. I'm not big on rules when it comes to fighting because I've been doing this for 17 years. I don't want to spend my whole life in the gym."
Guillard's initial plan was to return to Jackson, which has produced good results in the past. He tweeted on March 24 his intent to reunite with the team, only to find out from Internet posts he was no longer welcome.
Long story short, Guillard takes responsibility for the team's decision, citing the timing of his move to the Blackzilians in late 2011.
While he says he didn't intend for it to come across this way, it might have appeared he sided with a rival camp. Blackzilians teammate Rashad Evans was fighting Jackson's Jon Jones for the UFC light heavyweight title.
"My wife asked me to take a step back and think about if it was me," Guillard said. "If someone left your team to go to an opposing team that is having a big title fight, you think you would be willing to take him back? I said, 'Point well taken.'
"I don't want to get into who voted to take me back and who didn't. I did get to talk to coach Greg personally after the fact and he told me, 'Look, right now we have some guys against it and it's just not a good time, but that doesn't mean you can't come back [eventually].' Greg left it up to the team and I understand that."
His wife got on Skype from the couple's home back east so Guillard could give her a virtual tour of his new digs. The tour, he said, took "two seconds." He shares the house with up to five team members. There is no bed, but he sleeps on "some pretty cool, comfortable cots that aren't so bad."
At 30, with a 1-4 record in his last five fights, Guillard says he doesn't want to spend all day in the gym, but he did want to eliminate distractions from his camp. He brought very few personal belongings to Denver and doesn't even have his own ride.
"I think it's going to take me living in this basement for 3½ months and grinding it out," said Guillard, when asked how he needed to turn his career around. "It's lovely here. I left all my cars at home. I'm catching a ride to practice every day. I think that's what it takes for me, is being focused."
One member from Jackson's who Guillard still considers a teammate is fellow lightweight Donald Cerrone. According to Guillard, Cerrone even extended an invitation for him to stay at his ranch in New Mexico until the camp invited him back.
For Guillard, though, Denver appeared to be the best option. With the UFC trimming its roster lately, Guillard fully believes he won't have a job should he lose to Danzig.
In fact, he's grateful to have a spot now and believes UFC president Dana White only spared him because he accepted a fight on short notice against Cerrone last year.
"The only thing that kept my job after [the last loss] was the fact I took the Cerrone fight," Guillard said. "I stepped up and took a fight and I think Dana commended me on it.
"I've got one foot in [the UFC] and one foot out, but I'll be damned if I let both feet get kicked out. Right now, I'm fighting for my job. I'm not going to get cut from the UFC. I'll die in that ring on July 27th before I let Danzig take my job from me."
When Rashad Evans last stepped inside the Octagon to fight -- on Feb. 2 at UFC 156 -- he was a shadow of himself.
There was very little head or foot movement, making him an easy target for Antonio Rogerio Nogueira’s stiff right jab. But the sluggish standup wasn’t the only hint that Evans was present in name only -- he found it difficult to get Lil Nog off his feet.
Evans registered one takedown during the 15-minute battle. Every one of his takedown attempts was telegraphed. A solid wrestler like Evans doesn’t normally broadcast when he’s about to go for a double-leg.
His performance against Nogueira was so poor that some wondered aloud whether Evans’ best days as a fighter were in the past. Based off that outing against Nogueira, the simple response is yes.
But the reality is much more complex. Evans remains as physically explosive as ever. On that level, he can still compete with the best. He’ll be the naturally faster, more athletic fighter in the cage at UFC 161 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on June 15 when he meets hard-hitting Dan Henderson. But will he be mentally and emotionally as strong as his opponent that night?
“I’m happy about this fight [against Henderson],” Evans told ESPN.com. “Having the chance to fight somebody like Dan is a big deal, especially after not having the performance I would have liked [against Nogueira].
“It’s good to get in there with somebody like Dan and answer a lot of critics and to show everybody that I am still one of the best guys in the weight class. I couldn’t find my rhythm against Nogueira; I couldn’t find my timing. It was just one of those things. It was like I was in a mental fog.”
Evans has dropped each of his past two fights. It’s the first time as a professional fighter that he’s experienced a losing skid.
Despite his recent setbacks -- to Nogueira and a highly emotional affair with light heavyweight champion Jon Jones at UFC 145 in April 2012 -- Evans isn’t one to make excuses. And he is not about to start, despite less-than-impressive showings in his past three outings -- tons of criticism was heaped on him after his win over Phil Davis in January 2012.
Evans was experiencing marriage problems before his fight against Davis. The Chicago resident and father of three spent most of 2011 in Boca Raton, Fla., training with his "Blackzilians" teammates.
It also was the year Evans severed ties with his longtime trainer, Greg Jackson, who instructs Jones. Evans was able to handle the split with Jackson; dealing with a crumbling marriage and seeing less of his children proved much more difficult. It’s a matter he still hasn’t fully come to grips with, and his performance in the cage has suffered. Evans’ divorce was finalized after his loss to Jones.
“Having a failed marriage and not being able to see your kids on a daily basis, that’s what hurts me every single day,” Evans said. “I feel like I failed in my marriage and I failed my kids by not being in their lives on a daily basis.
“It’s because they live in Chicago and in order for me to train I live in South Florida for the most part. I have a place in Chicago, but I’m rarely ever there because I’m always trying to train. It bothers me and I can’t say that it doesn’t.”
Evans has yet to come to grips with not seeing his children regularly. He knows firsthand what it’s like not having a father in the home. Being a former light heavyweight champion and top-level mixed martial artist doesn’t come close to the joy Evans gets from being a good father.
I feel like I failed in my marriage and I failed my kids by not being in their lives on a daily basis.” -- Rashad Evans
Evans enjoyed being a mixed martial artist when his children were around him often. During the past year, that enjoyment has dissipated.
“I must admit I did get to a point where I wasn’t having fun and went through the motions,” Evans said. “And that’s where I am right now.
“When I started fighting I enjoyed everything part of it: I enjoyed training so much, I enjoyed learning. But lately it had gotten to the point where it was something that I had to do, it’d become somewhat monotonous.”
Evans realizes that he won’t be able to compete at the highest level of MMA if he can’t find enjoyment in the sport. He struggles with this each day. But a two-fight skid has helped him conclude that a third loss must be avoided. It has become the source of his motivation as he prepares to face Henderson.
Evans would love to spend more time with his children, but it’s a situation he can’t reverse at this time. What he can control is providing for them financially.
A loss to Henderson, however, could seriously threaten his earning power. That realization might just be enough to shake Evans from his emotional doldrums.
“This is the type of fight that keeps you up at night, because you want to do well,” Evans said. “My back is against the wall. And this is when I perform at my best.
“In the fight business, you’re only as good as your next fight. If you lose two or three then you’re done.
“My manager Bill Robinson always says, ‘You’re either one fight away from getting a title shot and becoming champion or you’re two losses away from being cut from UFC.’”
But he's going to try.
Two of the best mixed martial artists Jackson has worked with will fight Saturday night, and the influential trainer doesn't want to be anywhere near the thing when Georges St-Pierre and Carlos Condit step into a pumped and primed arena.
From the top, when it was known Condit would fight St-Pierre for the UFC welterweight championship, Jackson tapped out.
Out of respect for St-Pierre, Jackson basically ignored Condit the past few months. When the 28-year-old challenger entered the gym, Jackson exited. Maintaining the champion's trust was paramount. And, because of camp policy, Jackson also didn't serve as guru for a French Canadian MMA great coming off knee surgery tasked with defending his title against a serious threat.
Jackson won't be there to offer sage words in the locker room Saturday. He won't settle breathing patterns between rounds. He won't exist in the Bell Centre outside of his ghostly presence.
Instead, there's a good chance Jackson will be camping somewhere in the New Mexico desert on fight night. He'll figure it out in the morning, but an hour before the fighters made weight Friday, Jackson had it in his head to "maybe head out to a ghost town -- or hang out at my house."
Based on his attitude leading up to the fight, a chilly evening spent sleeping near a ghost town seems the perfect destination for Jackson, who claimed he hasn't played the fight out in his mind and, acting the part of an ostrich, won't bother watching live.
Maybe he'll know results sometime Sunday, he said.
Jackson expects an exciting contest, and he wished fight of the night bonuses upon them both. But that was as far as he would go when it came to discussing the anticipated contest.
As for searching for signs of life in the middle of nowhere, Jackson calls it a hobby. He has found books, shoes, horseshoes and bullets.
Seen toppled buildings, encountered history.
"When I get a chance, which isn't very often lately, I like to go get lost in the desert," Jackson said. "Sometimes I'll do couple-day trips, sometimes I'll just do a one-day thing, but it will probably be at least an overnight go-get-lost thing, maybe camp. We'll see.
"I've never found an old gun or anything like that, but tons of odds and ends that was these peoples' lives for a long time. It's really, really cool to see. I found a great book on phrenology one time."
Phrenology is the detailed study of the shape and size of the cranium as an indication of character and mental abilities. You can understand why Jackson, with his reputation for all things cerebral, found it fascinating.
Out of respect, he left the book where he found it.
"Those things are very old and either belong to the people that own the land or a museum, but it definitely does not belong to me," he said.
So how much credit belongs to him for St-Pierre's shift into a dominant champion? How much credit belongs to him for Condit's rise?
The fighters' reverential words leading up to UFC 154 speak loudly to Jackson's contributions. He'll always downplay what he does, but if Jackson's ghostly absence looms large over the result, he might not enjoy the luxury of hiding in the desert next time.
This Saturday, for the first time since April 2011, St. Pierre (22-2) steps into the cage with his belt on the line. And this Saturday, for the first time since the last weekend in 2007, there's a decent chance he won't be champion anymore -- at least, that's how I see St. Pierre's contest unfolding with UFC interim welterweight champion Carlos Condit.
I'm picking the 28-year-old Condit (28-5) to win, and feeling pretty confident about it, too.
So why does he pull off the upset?
Condit has never been better
If not for a split decision loss to Martin Kampmann in his UFC debut (one of the best fights of 2009, by the way), Condit would roll into this fight having won 14 straight over the past six years.
He's fully matured as an athlete, and is well suited for the moment. Championship fights provide their own difficulties, and while this is far and away the most important belt he could win, Condit's experience in title contests is rich and undoubtedly valuable.
Condit won't step into the cage in St. Pierre's hometown and get spooked. I can't imagine that happening, anyway. And so long as Condit is there mentally Saturday, the rest should just happen. Make no mistake about it, Condit needs the best effort of his life.
Everything I've seen from him over the years, especially the past couple, says he's come up the right way, put in his time, won titles and understands championship pressure.
Bottom line, Condit won't be shy against St. Pierre, which is fairly important because he can't afford to be.
Not talking about the between-the-ears kind here.
Pressure (noun): the continuous physical force exerted on or against an object by something in contact with it.
Pressure (verb): attempt to persuade or coerce someone into doing something.
Condit will attempt to persuade or coerce St. Pierre into losing by continually exerting physical force on the French-Canadian champion.
Other than the curveball against Nick Diaz, Condit is a notorious pressure fighter. He moves forward, presses the action, and looks to finish -- the true goal for fighters like him. He has come through 26 times in 28 wins.
Condit, therefore, appears naturally inclined to go after it this way, and against St. Pierre's cautious tendencies, it's also the smart thing to do. The challenger needs to pressure St. Pierre into exchanging, into discomfort, into thinking and doubt. Over a 25-minute fight, this attitude would make an enormous difference for him.
Condit's arsenal is deep. He's not just a boxer. He can do much more than kick. He's solid off his back and will catch submissions from anywhere.
There's never a moment in a fight against Carlos Condit when his opponent can feel safe. Never a moment. His Muay Thai is more than threatening. He's technical and wild, throwing anything from standing elbows to jumping knees, all from the same stance, all in a split second.
He hurts people. This isn't a pitter-patter fighter. Condit can crack, and while I'm not suggesting St. Pierre suffers from a questionable chin, I will say that Condit can put down anyone.
If he's forced to his back, which is almost a sure thing against St. Pierre, Condit's jiu-jitsu mirrors his striking. He goes for submissions, and can boast of finishing 13 of them.
Styles make fights. St. Pierre's grappling and takedowns are so off-the-charts dominant that it's a given he’s going to assert himself. Even Condit's camp concedes this point. The question is, will the challenger force St. Pierre to work for his gains?
Condit has a bad habit of keeping his head in target range. He'll have to keep moving to throw off St. Pierre's targeting, because once the champion is locked in, he'll pick apart anyone. But other than that, his movement is good, he'll check a kick, and can counter if the mood calls for it.
Mostly I'm thinking of the times when Condit is on the floor. His long legs, eager guard, and slick (re)positioning lead me to believe that St. Pierre won’t have a lot of luck landing significant strikes.
St. Pierre is a grinder. He'll go after the same weakness until it cracks or exposes something more enticing. I don’t think he'll manage to do something similar against Condit.
The wild cards.
Is St. Pierre fully recovered from the ACL tear? (He seems to be, but if he’s a hair off, a half-step slower, less dynamic, that sets up as a huge factor.)
Is there a shred of doubt in his mind about performing at his peak? (St. Pierre admitted to mental weakness in the past, leaving open the possibility of it creeping back into the picture.)
Without Greg Jackson in his camp for planning and support, how will St. Pierre be affected on fight night? (He's a thinker, and that can betray the man. A routine that's worked so well for so long has been disrupted, that could be a big deal in the end.)
I don't know about any of these things. No one will until fight night. But let’s say none of them come to fruition, that St. Pierre is 100 percent ready to fight, prepared in every possible way. I still believe, at a minimum, that Condit will provide the best test the champion has faced in years.
That said, if the trajectory of 2011 and 2012 holds an indication of what's to come, Jones oozes importance.
On Saturday, "Bones" proved he's more than a great athlete, he's a true fighter. Old-school; new-school -- it's the same DNA in the end.
The lanky New Yorker learned a few things against Vitor Belfort, who's as good a person to take lessons from as anyone. For one thing, Belfort made Jones familiar with the sharp discomfort of a hyperextended joint. The champ confirmed to everyone that despite feeling this, regardless of cartilage in his right elbow snapping, crackling and popping, he wasn’t going to tap. There have been many defended armbars over the years. Jones' wasn't a particularly pretty escape, but that doesn't matter. This was his first true moment of in-Octagon adversity. During the time he stood over Belfort, his long limb stretched beyond 180 degrees, Jones wasn't motivated by self-preservation. That's the salient point. He was willing to let it break. It's a sadistic truth that truly great fighters need quality coursing through their veins.
So it's clear: Jones has every intangible. There's nothing you'd want to see in a fighter that he can't call upon. And then there’s the stuff only he can do like he does, those awkward odd-angled kicks that really seem to hurt, for example. Most fighters keep distance in two ranges. Jones has at least three, making him much more difficult to decipher. The mid-range work with elbows opens up an entirely new set of problems for opponents, and Jones adroitly made them a staple of his game.
Though Belfort’s lightning strike may suggest otherwise, it's unlikely, as Jones' trainer Greg Jackson has long said, that his toughest tests will come in the cage. And that's not because he's running out of opponents. Light heavyweight is an active and exciting class. Potential suitors linger at heavyweight with Messrs. Junior dos Santos, Cain Velasquez, Alistair Overeem and Fabricio Werdum. Bottom line: There will be plenty of guys who put Jones through his paces over the next decade.
Still, if the past few months is predictive, Jackson called it correctly. The DWI. The cancellation of UFC 151 and all that that entailed, including tricky navigation around a war of words with UFC president Dana White. The failure to appease some fans, who seem eager to dislike a guy who smiles way more than he scowls. A major sponsorship with Nike, the first of its kind for a fighter in the UFC. These sorts of things can weigh heavy on the head of a young king. Yet they didn't appear to hurt him this week, particularly not on fight night when he walked to the cage to Bob Marley's "Could You Be Loved?" and memorably retained the title.
If Jones wasn’t sure of his ability to handle multiple stresses, including some he brought upon himself, he has a good read on it after UFC 152. Yep, Jones is maturing in front of our eyes. Growing comfortable in his own skin. Growing as a mixed martial artist. So it feels safe to suggest that he’s nowhere near as dangerous as he will be two years from now. And if that’s the case, then he’s nowhere near as rich or famous or popular or affected as he could very well become.
A great fall (or two or three) is probably required for Jones not to find where he seems destined to go. Not an unheard-of scenario for a man of his talent. Individual sports like MMA are fertile ground for highest of the highs and lowest of the lows. Jones is more familiar with highs at this point, but that’s today. Tomorrow is a Bentley wrapped around a utility pole.
Jones has graduated from the school of the come-up. He’s here now. Established. On top. Better positioned for a lifetime of success than any UFC champion before him. He’ll take what’s his or he won’t. One way or the other, though, the current UFC light heavyweight champion will be remembered.
Jones faces a long road ahead in MMA and life, which sounds odd considering how far he’s already come. But it’s nonetheless true, verifiable by the wisdom he recently gained and the many volumes yet to be learned. What will Jones be like at 27? At 33? Could he lose interest in this sport, a victim of his own success? Will a kid come along, beat him and change the paradigm? Will he dominate until he walks away for good?
I suppose it’s not quite right to say that Jones has displayed every trait expected of great fighters. Longevity. He hasn’t shown that one yet. So time will tell with this talent, still very much the future.
During 12-plus years covering mixed martial arts, I've never seen a day like Aug. 23.
This is the timeline:
Right around 12:30 p.m. ET, the UFC announced president Dana White would host a conference call an hour-and-a-half later to address the fate of UFC 151. Speculation ran wild that Dan Henderson was injured and needed to pull out of his UFC light heavyweight challenge against Jon Jones, which turned out to be true. Speculation was equally strong that Chael Sonnen had been tabbed to replace the former Pride champion. Also true.
What no one knew was this: Jones wanted nothing to do with Sonnen on Sept. 1, Zuffa would cancel a card for the first time in its history and the champ's next defense would come several weeks later against Lyoto Machida in Toronto. Crazy enough. Then Anderson Silva reportedly volunteered to fight at 151 in an effort to save the date (it was too late). Machida declined to fight Jones because he wouldn't have enough time to prepare (he'll probably lose his No. 1 contender status). And Vitor Belfort stepped up to fight Jones in Canada after the UFC no longer deemed Sonnen an option.
Carnage -- leaving mostly losers and few winners. Here's how it shakes out.
Chael Sonnen -- Sonnen nearly talked his way into a "nothing to lose" contest against Jon Jones. As it stands now, he comes off as an opportunist, but that's not a bad thing at all. Sonnen said yes to fighting one of the most dangerous competitors in MMA, a call that would have salvaged an event and probably delivered a better pay-per-view number than Jones-Henderson. Sonnen played this one perfectly and used the moment to redeem himself after losing to Silva last month. The timing of his Twitter attacks on Jones was curious, since it coincided with Henderson's injury, further proof of just how sly the 35-year-old Oregonian can be. Be ready to hear him attack Jones more vociferously than he went after Silva.
Vitor Belfort -- Out of nowhere Belfort swooped in to get a crack at Jones. He was tabbed to fight dangerous Alan Belcher at UFC 153. Instead, he benefits from a "nothing to lose" situation against Jones, should register a big payday on pay-per-view and comes off looking like a guy who will fight anyone, any time. Though Belfort will miss out on fighting in Rio, heading to Toronto (after already having been in camp preparing for Belcher) was a no-brainer.
Anderson Silva -- Perhaps it was an empty gesture, but Silva looks good for offering to step in to keep the Mandalay Bay event intact. The ship had already left port, but this overture by Silva, accused in the past of not being a company guy, won't be forgotten (in a good way) by the UFC.
The UFC -- Marketing dollars for UFC 151 will never be recouped. The PR hit associated with canceling an event for the first time is tough to swallow. Having a young stud champion turn down a fight makes for an interesting twist in the promoter-athlete dynamic that has long skewed toward Zuffa. White went after the young star and his camp, leading to a situation that will probably require mending. The cancellation provided more fodder for critics who see recent injury problems and too many events leading to a watered-down product. All in all, an awful day for the people inside UFC.
Undercard fighters -- Bouts already have been shifted for the weeks and months ahead, but the fact that these guys went through entire training camps only to have the rug pulled simply sucks.
Jon Jones -- As terrible as this event was for Zuffa, Jones is taking the brunt of criticism for opting against fighting Sonnen, thus leading to the cancellation of Sept. 1's pay-per-view event. Some will say Jones did the smart thing. There was nothing to gain by fighting Sonnen. Jones was only protecting himself. But the majority won't view it that way. They'll see Jones as selfish, as causing major headaches for his promoter as well as fellow fighters. Being hammered by White and Sonnen will only compound that effect. He could have taken a fight against an underprepared Sonnen, whooped the guy, made a payday and been done with him. Instead, Jones will have to cope with Sonnen chirping incessantly -- something he was already tired of.
Lyoto Machida -- Bye, bye No. 1 contender. Machida's decision to turn down a fight with Jones four weeks from now will put the Brazilian in the crosshairs of fans, pundits and his promoter. In the end, though, it may turn out to be the best decision. Perhaps Machida wouldn't have been prepared on the 22nd (he said he wanted more time to train), and what good would it do him to fight Jones at less than 100 percent? But still, to have been slotted in and then removed from the fight won't ingratiate him to anyone. This means Machida will need another win before getting a title shot. Was the trade-off worth it? Only time will tell.
Greg Jackson -- Jones' trainer isn't White's favorite guy to begin with. Now White has taken to calling Jackson a "f---ing sport killer." Jackson told Jones he thought it was a bad idea to fight Sonnen on eight days' notice. For that he drew the ire of fans and the UFC. Jackson's defense was simple: He didn't believe the bout was in Jones' best interest. Compared to other options at hand, I don't understand why. Sonnen would have delivered a nice payday, meanwhile he wasn't at all prepared for the light heavyweight champion.
Dan Henderson -- Look, he was injured, so there's not a lot he could have done. Henderson wanted to fight and, though he basically was forced out of the gym for two weeks, was willing to take on Jones if he could walk in the cage. At Henderson's age, any setback is a major one. He won't require surgery, but who knows if a title shot will materialize again.
Despite the high stakes, Guida is as calm as ever. Under similar circumstances, most fighters would struggle to get their nerves under control.
That just isn’t the case with Guida. He could not be in a more peaceful state of mind days before what is possibly the most important mixed martial arts contest of his professional career. For one, Guida has no doubt that his hand -- not Maynard’s -- will be raised when the five-rounder concludes -- if it lasts that long.
Then there is the matter of what’s happening in Guida’s non-UFC world. Things are so good in Guida’s personal life that training camp has been a virtual breeze. That’s what happens when a fighter isn’t experiencing personal distractions -- especially those of a financial nature.
“I have a couple of good business things going on outside of mixed martial arts,” Guida told ESPN.com. “I have a very successful gym [Clay Guida’s MMAStop Fitness in Crest Hill, Ill.].
“There are good people looking over my gym back home. I’ve made some good investments with people I grew up with, and good financial advisors. This makes it easy for me, knowing that I can train every day to become a better fighter and get closer to my dream, which is to become the lightweight champion.”
Guida is extremely happy with the growth of his gym. It doesn’t hurt that several high-profile fighters and trainers have taken time to visit and offer instructions to wide-eyed youngsters. UFC interim welterweight champion Carlos Condit is slated to conduct a seminar there on June 30, and he's just the latest in a line of mixed martial arts' celebrities to grace the gym with their presence.
Former UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez, trainer Greg Jackson, lightweight contender Donald Cerrone, retired light heavyweight Matt Hamill and UFC bantamweight titleholder Dominick Cruz are some of the fighters who’ve conducted seminars at the gym.
The fighters, however, aren’t simply offering specific mixed martial arts instructions. Guida is quick to point out that he isn’t running your standard MMA facility.
“It’s a family fitness center,” Guida said. “It’s not necessarily a mixed martial arts or fight gym. It’s targeted toward families and kids, who want to try kickboxing, wrestling, jujitsu and personal training, things like that.
“It helps them build a healthy lifestyle.”
And maintaining a healthy lifestyle isn’t limited to nonprofessionals. Guida (29-12) is the biggest beneficiary of practicing what he preaches. While many big-name fighters have been hit by the injury bug recently, Guida has taken extra precaution to reduce the odds that he will join the list.
Being in the best physical condition possible for his bout with Maynard is a very high priority for Guida, and it's a delicate balancing act.
“It’s about pulling back the reins,” said Guida, who still trains at Team Jackson-Winkeljohn in Albuquerque, N.M. “We train hard, but we’re also very smart about our training. We’re not trying to knock each other out in the gym. But at the same time we are going at it 100 percent and trying to give each other the best workout we can.
“It’s just about being careful. But when you lighten up in practice, sometimes that’s when you get hurt. And when you lighten up, you’re not getting the most out of your training session. So it’s 50-50; anything can happen.”
Everything has been clicking for Guida during this training camp. His weight is on point, his timing couldn’t be better and his confidence level is off the charts.
It’s not enough to win against Maynard; Guida wants to deliver a strong message as well: that he is as deserving of a lightweight title shot as anyone in the division.
“Finishing Gray Maynard puts me right back to being the No. 1 contender," Guida said. "It puts me right there."
“I know they said Nate [Diaz] is getting the title shot. Nate has beaten three guys in a row -- one of my teammates [Donald Cerrone], Takanori Gomi and Jim Miller, [but] who did he beat before that? Before I lost to [Benson] Henderson, which was a very close fight, people say it could have gone either way, I won four in a row -- three submissions, and I beat two former world champions on the way.
“Gray Maynard hadn’t lost in two or three years. But a finish over Gray is what I’m looking for.”
ATLANTA -- If there is one piece in this entire Rashad Evans/Jon Jones/Greg Jackson puzzle that often gets overlooked, it’s Mike Van Arsdale.
Van Arsdale, 46, spent years coaching at Jackson’s camp in Albuquerque, N.M. in a role, he says, he was rarely paid for. He viewed the experience as “an internship.”
Even though he was highly involved in the camps of major fighters, Van Arsdale paid his bills with money made from personal training sessions with non-fighting clients. Instead of sitting cageside during his fighters' bouts, he watched on TV.
That role changed forever for Van Arsdale in May 2009, after Evans lost his UFC title to Lyoto Machida at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Today, he says his stable of fighters in Boca Raton, Fla., is 30 strong and he'll be in one corner one of the most anticipated fights of 2012 when Evans meets Jones at UFC 145 this weekend.
In an interview with ESPN.com, Van Arsdale discussed his perspective on the grudge match between the former teammates, his team and that moment in 2009 that he believes led him to becoming a head coach.
ESPN.com: What would you say your role was at Jackson’s and did you ever receive credit for it?
Van Arsdale: My role was to coach the team. When you’ve got a head coach that the gym is named after, obviously he gets all the credit. I understood that. I basically did it as an internship. Did I get credit for it? No. I don’t think people even knew I was there. I don’t remember doing any interviews or anyone saying, “Mike Van Arsdale is training anyone.” It was tough not making a living for what I did, especially with five children. But as far as feeling good about fights? I remember training fighters 10-12 weeks, getting up in the morning with them, then jumping in the air when they won from my spot on the couch because I wasn’t in their corner. I still felt good about it, though. I learned a lot from that experience and now it’s my time to coach.
ESPN.com: Did you always plan to be a head trainer in the future?
Van Arsdale: I was content not coaching fighters until I went to visit Rashad after he lost to Machida. I went to the room prior to the fight to see him, but there were so many people in there. Security was patting me down saying I couldn’t get in. Then after the fight, I went in there and it was just him and his wife. I said, “You mean to tell me there was a full room before and now there’s just you and your wife? What a bunch of fake people. And I’m not trying to talk about the coaches in there. There were people in there calling themselves his friends, too. After the fight -- nobody. The very next day he asked me to coach him.
Van Arsdale: Greg and I have a good relationship. I used to live at his house and was one of his fighters. After that, I helped him run his gym. I don’t think he was happy when I left because I was doing a lot of work but he’s fine now. He’s fine, I’m fine. I like and respect Mike Winkeljohn. He was like my ally at the gym. I’m pretty sure they plan on winning this fight and I plan on winning, too.
ESPN.com: How has it been preparing for a fight against a Greg Jackson fighter, a trainer you know so well?
Van Arsdale: There’s nothing different. I don’t think about the coaches. I think about the guy we’re fighting. He has a lot of talented fighters but as far as being able to predict things -- none of us are able to predict anything. You can only prepare for battle. You don’t win your fight on fight night. You don’t sit in your corner and tell them how to win the fight. Nobody is the coach of the year. Nobody is smarter than everyone else. The only smart coaches are the ones that don’t over-train guys.
ESPN.com: You know Rashad. How has he been during this camp?
Van Arsdale: The only thing that’s different is the media won’t leave him alone. Other than that, we’re training how we always do. Does he want to win this fight? Of course, but he doesn’t want to win this one more than he wanted to win the last one.
ESPN.com: At one point, Rashad said if Jon held the belt he’d move to middleweight or heavyweight. Was that ever realistic?
ESPN.com: How confident are you in this fight?
Van Arsdale: I never say that nothing can happen or there’s no way we can lose but I’m in the 90 to 95 percentile we’re winning this fight. The only reason there’s any percentage there that we won’t is because this is MMA. As far as knowing Rashad and what he’s capable of and how he’s prepared -- I think it will be a good fight but I don’t see how Jon can win. There are a couple ways he could, but I don’t see those scenarios going down. I know everyone is thinking Rashad is going to lose but that is just another lesson for all the people to learn.
ESPN.com: Talk about training Rashad in Florida this past year.
Van Arsdale: The funny thing is I never try to make him the best Rashad he can be. I just make sure he beats the guy he’s fighting. You don’t want to give everything away if you want to have a long career. Athletes can’t peak over and over again, especially drug-free athletes. I asked him how many fights he wants to win and we’re not halfway there yet. So, unless he tells me we’ve only got one more fight, I’m not trying to get everything out of this guy. Example, for Phil Davis, he didn’t have to be in the best shape to beat that guy.
ESPN.com: Have you peaked him, though, for this fight specifically?
Van Arsdale: No. I don’t have to, to win this fight. It’s not the last one. We did enough to beat this guy.
You'd guess by now Jon Jones knows everything he could wish to know about Rashad Evans.
There’s never enough intel -- not for Jones, especially when he’s days away from a fight the UFC light heavyweight champion has pondered over for far too long.
So while participants on a conference call designed to hype the main event for UFC 145 heard Evans lambaste Jones as a cocky liar and his old trainers as patently selfish, Jones gleaned something else. Something he thought was telling.
"They say if you want to get into a man's head, listen to the words that are coming out of his mouth,” Jones explained an hour later.
Apparently, among Jones’s many other gifts, the 24-year-old budding superstar is capable of filtering meaningful data, what he called "the true intent,” through the incessant noise of a melodrama.
On Friday, after listening to Evans speak, Jones came to the conclusion that his challenger, rival and former friend is distracted. This is significant, Jones went on to say, because it signals that Evans, in some measure, isn't fully focusing on what it will take to win Saturday’s upcoming five-round title bout in Atlanta.
This is the champion’s take: While Evans has revenge on the brain, Jones is thinking tactics.
As insights go, it may not be Jones’ most impressive. Evans basically confirmed as much. Of course he wants win and regain the UFC belt, but the 32-year-old mixed martial artist is no less eager to teach hard lessons to the current titleholder and the team for which he once fought.
The champion sees Evans as being "more caught up than the fans are” in the drawn-out tale of how their rivalry and fight came to pass, and of the potential payback aimed at trainers they once shared.
“Rashad's biggest thing is to win this whole prefight drama,” Jones said. “He's stuck on winning over fans. He wants people to hate me and hate Greg Jackson. That’s the only thing he cares about, and in the process he has stretched the truth on numerous occasions.”
He's stuck on winning over fans. He wants people to hate me and hate Greg Jackson. That's the only thing he cares about, and in the process he has stretched the truth on numerous occasions.” -- Jon Jones, on Rashad Evans being caught up in emotions
Evans is certainly emotional about his situation, which any reasonable person should understand.
Not only does the challenger feel wronged by people he considered close friends; he lived the sporting truth that no matter how good you are -- and he’s excellent at this fighting stuff -- inevitably someone younger, faster, bigger or stronger is waiting in the wings. In this case, that happened while he was still in his prime.
Jones can claim to knows Evans’ thoughts or feelings, but for all his alleged intuition, he’s never actually experienced betrayal by a camp he helped build. He has no clue, at least not yet, what it’s like to have someone more talented than him come into his domain, divert attention away from resources that were dedicated to him and usurp what was once his.
Jones is the golden boy of the moment, and golden boys, for periods of their lives, know no such things.
The UFC light heavyweight champ has only begun his ascent. Youth, talent and physically unique dimensions, including a dominant shot-blocker’s wing span, all made up for the fact that he remains new to this game. Despite holding the belt, a distinction earned just three years after he stepped into the mixed martial arts world, Jones isn’t nearly as good as he projects out to be.
“If you tell him to go out and try something he'll just make it happen,” trainer Mike Winkeljohn said. “It's kind of incredible.”
Compared to Evans, whom Winkeljohn worked closely with for four years when the light heavyweight trained out of Jackson’s camp in Albuquerque, N.M., the trainer said Jones doesn’t do what’s “real normal for most people.” He doesn’t second-guess himself, in part because he’s come to rely on his faith and an ability to improvise in the Octagon.
Half the time, Jones said, he doesn't even know what he's going to do in a fight until it happens.
“Rashad has tendencies,” said the son of a pastor from upstate New York. “He's fought so long he's figured out his favorite moves. I don't have favorite moves. He has no clue what to expect.”
That’s not quite right. Evans has some idea; after all, they have plenty of history in the gym. Depending on who’s doing the recollecting, Evans either put the kid in his place or, as Winkeljohn suggested, had “the fear of God” injected into him.
What the former Michigan State University wrestler may not be familiar with, especially over the last year or so, is how calculated Jones has become. Just as he listens and deciphers to find true intent, Jones also has developed a habit of saying only “what I want to be heard.”
This could be why some people, including and especially Evans, suggest Jones as fake, a fraud. Though the two can be confused, there is a wide difference between someone who isn’t the genuine article and someone who is coldly premeditated. Jones leans towards the latter.
During last week’s conference call, for instance, Jones made an impassioned defense of Jackson after Evans unloaded on the trainer. Offering a verbal one-two, Jones hammered home the notion that the bond he shares with the man Evans felt betrayed by is stronger than ever. He was clean and precise with this words. In real time it sounded like an articulate, honest-to-goodness endorsement of the crew set to work his corner this weekend.
Was this, as it appeared to be, a full-throated endorsement? Or was it more; a message designed specifically for Evans’ burning ears?
"Everything is said for a reason,” Jones answered. And he left it at that.
In this way, the young champion has come to emulate a man he respects more than any other to grace the sports world. Muhammad Ali is the greatest for many reasons, not least of which was his poetic license to verbally accost the opposition.
Jones is different than Ali here -- he said he’s different than Ali in several areas, but wouldn’t elaborate -- in that he generally kills with kindness.
Jon Jones, the smiling assassin.
That is, until his old buddy Evans comes up.
"I don't look at Rashad as a former friend,” Jones said. “I look at him as someone who's trying to take things away from me. He doesn't care about me. He doesn't care about my kids. Why should I care about him? This is a game, and my job is to destroy him."
Even when Jon Jones and Rashad Evans were training partners in Albuquerque, N.M., one fighter was never going to be "off limits" to the other forever. As UFC president Dana White peevishly reminds everyone, brotherhood has nothing on matchmaking logistics, especially when there’s room at the top for only one. For all the things that Jones and Evans shared in common in those carefree early days at Greg Jackson’s gym in the desert, that they shared a weight class was always the bit of taboo.
Ultimately, they never stood by each other so much as in each other’s way.
That’s why this weekend’s clash carries an air of inevitability to it, as well as a strange feeling of “let’s get this over with.” It’s an uncomfortable fight. And yet the best way out, as has been said, is always through.
That’s how things will be in UFC 145’s main event. All delusions have been shattered in the most public way possible. All the acts of betrayal stored into banks of motivation. The house Evans helped build in Albuquerque is coming after him with the new, young prizefighter, the pupil who looks to surpass the master. His replacement. The guy holding the belt he once owned.
These things cut deep.
In other words, this fight has the kind of cinematic undertones that make busybodies of us all. The Jones/Evans conflict broke down barriers -- within each other and externally. It divided a gym that had, up until then, functioned on Zen-like bonds.
Imagine how awkward it’s been on somebody such as former UFC contender Keith Jardine, who was Evans’ BFF before Jones arrived? Jardine still lives in Albuquerque, that forsaken place where Evans was scorned, and still shares the mats with Jones.
Imagine, too, what it’s been like for Jackson, who is the stuck-between that had his guts twisted at for the last year over this ordeal. This is a fight that opened up the teammate versus teammate debate to the point Mike Winkeljohn and Jackson had a sit-down with their den of fighters to emphasize what must be done in pursuit of the ultimate goal (as in, getting a UFC belt and all the perks that come with one).
From that point on, the word “never” was taken out of the collective vocabulary at Jackson's.
Jackson fighters became realists in the Jones/Evans fallout. In fact, a lot of people did. But none more so than Evans, who set out in search of himself like a modern-day Yojimbo, ending up in Florida with the most intense cast of strays ever assembled in MMA as a "Blackzilian" -- an assemblage of fighters who have gathered at Imperial Athletics in Boca Raton, Fla.
But what MMA fans remember Evans for most is that he was once the type of champion to champion a young cat such as Jones, to help him get his bearings and swagger, and finally to put Jones in a place to make him miserable.
Everyone succeeded on the fool’s errand. That place is the here and now.
And it’s Evans task to reel Jones back in, to kick out the scaffolding he helped build. And it’s Jones' job to be the cruel bearer of news: that Evans' day is done and that this is his time. The top isn’t big enough for the both of them.
Which, of course, it never really was.
That pattern hasn’t changed as the two get ready for their highly anticipated title bout April 21 in Atlanta.
Both fighters are approaching this showdown like any other. Each is training diligently, studying the other’s recent fights carefully and fine-tuning certain techniques in his arsenal.
But Jones and Evans aren’t kidding themselves. This fight is different.
The history these two have with one another as friends and sparring partners can’t be ignored. Each fighter has made adjustments to his game since their days training together at Greg Jackson’s camp in Albuquerque, N.M. But most of the prefight tendencies that led them to this showdown remain.
Jones and Evans are very familiar with one another in a way that few opponents can imagine. They spent a lot of time together at Jackson’s helping one another prepare for fights.
Evans would take on the role of Jones’ opponent during training camp and vice versa. If Evans had a concern about an opponent’s style, Jones would work diligently to alleviate that concern -- and vice versa.
Each knows how the other prepares mentally before a fight, how much time the other devotes to hard training before a fight, how the other feels on the mat.
No previous opponent knew the physical strength Jones possessed, Evans does. None of Evans’ previous opponents could know how quickly he transitions from the standup to his takedown, Jones knows.
But most important, for all the harsh words Jones and Evans have directed at each other leading into their title tilt, deep down they remain brothers.
No matter how angry brothers get with one another, they will always maintain a soft spot. It’s what makes this fight different than any Jones and Evans have ever experienced.
The ability to execute one’s fight plan will be a key element in determining the winner. But unlike in most fights, emotions could have the greatest impact during the UFC 145 main event. Jones and Evans will be tested mentally and emotionally inside the Octagon like never before.
“I think every fight is my biggest test, and this one is no different,” Jones told ESPN.com. “My opponent brings lots of things to the table that past opponents didn’t.
“There’s also an obvious mental aspect to this fight for both of us. I won’t lie; it will be a little weird looking at him at first across the Octagon. But once the fight starts, all of that will go away.”
Evans, a former UFC 205-pound champion, echoed Jones’ sentiment regarding the impact personal feelings will have on this bout. But he believes the impact won’t be as great as some suspect.
“It will feel a little weird, but so much time has passed between us having a friendship and being training partners that it won’t matter,” Evans told ESPN.com.
Once Jones and Evans begin laying hands on one another their personal feelings will gradually diminish. The fighter who is able to put his feelings aside fastest will have a huge advantage.
Jones expects he will be that fighter. Retaining the title isn’t what motivates him most.
“If I want to create a legacy in the UFC and this sport, these are the fights I have to win,” Jones said.
As in, the difference between "present" and "past."
Jackson has long been big on loyalty. As the ultimate “there's-no-I-in-team” guy, he’s vocal about his stance that members of his Albuquerque-based camp shouldn’t fight one another and that he’ll recuse himself from the situation when they do, as in the case of Carlos Condit’s eventual welterweight unification bout with Georges St. Pierre.
But if choosing to be by Jones’ side when he meets up with his nemesis on April 21 violates those principles, it’s only in the most abstract way.
Evans, after all, isn’t a member of Team Jackson anymore. Since splitting from the squad in March, he hasn’t had a ton of nice things to say about it, either, publicly criticizing Jackson for recruiting Jones and telling the media he felt “stabbed in the back” when Jones pulled an about-face on the idea of meeting him in the Octagon.
Regardless of what you think about Evans’ reasons for leaving the team, he’s gone now, while Jones remains a member in good standing. In fact, it's pretty easy to argue that working Jones' corner for this fight doesn't undermine Jackson's loyalty to the fighters he trains but rather reinforces it.
If Team Jackson is lucky, it also will give Jones an edge on fight night.
Jackson, of course, was the principal architect behind Evans’ rise from underdog “Ultimate Fighter” winner to undefeated 205-pound champion. During that crucial time in his development when Evans went from eking out a split decision over the likes of Brad Imes in 2005 to -- three years later -- knocking out legends like Chuck Liddell and Forrest Griffin and cementing his status as one of the sport's best known figures, Jackson was the shepherd.
Is it possible for Evans to completely distance himself -- both mentally and physically -- from that years-long relationship in just 13 months of training elsewhere? It hardly seems so.
Granted, no fighter in his right mind would ever concede that his opponent has a psychological advantage leading up to a big bout, but what human being wouldn’t feel that way given the circumstances? What man wouldn’t look across the cage at a former training partner, his former mentor and chief strategist and not feel at least a tremor of doubt?
It’s often said that the sports world gives coaches too much credit. Maybe that’s true. Maybe Jackson -- one of the sport’s most likable figures -- will have little or nothing to do with what happens in the cage that night. Perhaps there will be so little resemblance between the Rashad Evans he once knew and the Evans who shows up to fight in Atlanta that Jackson will be a nonfactor. Perhaps it will even be Evans who has the mental advantage, after rumors indicate he routinely gave Jones all he could handle in the gym back in the days before their relationship fell apart.
Then again, maybe Jackson will play a roll.
If this fight comes down to game planning and tactics -- as it did earlier this month when Condit outpointed Nick Diaz -- it's possible his knowledge and previous work with Evans might have something to do with who is the UFC's 205-pound champion in future tense.
Thanks to a judicious call by Zuffa to postpone a pay-per-view card in Montreal slated for the end of March, Jones-Evans bookends what's likely to be the widest gap between UFC pay-per-view events in 2012.
When the rivals step into the Octagon in Atlanta, it will have been almost two full months since Frankie Edgar and Benson Henderson battled it out for the UFC lightweight belt in Japan. Eons in this world. The result: ample space for fans to recover from pay-per-view fatigue and for the Jones-Evans story lines, of which there are many, to flesh out.
That sort of vacuum is rare these days, and, I must say, welcome.
As the UFC pumps out fights and content at capacity, there’s hardly a moment to pause and get excited for the next one, or dwell on what just happened. While there are some intriguing bouts scheduled between Feb. 25 and April 21, including three Zuffa events and the start of the new Bellator campaign, none come close to matching the gravitational pull that Jones-Evans delivers.
Beyond the benefit to customers (and, not that you care, the media too), the mid-spring date works well for Jones and Evans.
After defeating Lyoto Machida in December, Jones said he'd like four to five months off. So it shall be. That's good news for a young champion, whose 2011 featured four fights against dangerous competitors in highly pressurized spots. After the new year, Jones changed his tune some, suggesting he'd like to compete as soon as possible. But it was in his best interest to sit out, and so a date in late April with Evans is just right.
Able to recover from a hard training camp and five-round fight against Phil Davis at the end of January, Evans has a chance to be at his best, which he must be to have a shot against his former sparring partner at Greg Jackson's camp in Albuquerque.
Jackson will have to decide soon whether or not he'll work Jones' corner. He's wavered on that point since initially ruling it out when the fight was first made in 2011. Injury prevented the fight then, leading to trash talk and inflamed passions among the camps.
With a solid seven weeks to hone in on, discuss, analyze, debate and project what will happen when these two finally meet in the cage, well, if you’re not interested in the fight it sucks to be you.
For those of us who see Evans as a threat -- perhaps the only threat -- to Jones, there’s a lot to like about how this played out in the end.
Feel-good stories in MMA are hard to sustain, and even harder to get off the ground. As quick and cobbled as the story of the Blackzilians is being put together as a sort of wrecking crew/adoption agency, old tendencies are returning to its fighters.
This isn’t a happy trend.
One week ago, Anthony Johnson failed to make weight (by a country mile) in Rio de Janeiro at UFC 142, marking the third time in two different weight classes he’s showed up to the scale way over. He was cut for the third strike after losing to Vitor Belfort. Now Melvin Guillard, who recently relocated to Florida full-time to train with the Blackzilians, gets submitted in a round by Jim Miller.
If any of this looks familiar it’s because he was tapped by Joe Lauzon in his previous fight at UFC 136, which was thought to be something of a winking aberration. Turns out it wasn’t, and it never really was. The fact is that nine of Guillard’s 10 losses have come via submission. The other fight he lost (against Jake Short in 2004) was a decision. Guillard has never been knocked out, but he dangles neck and limb out there to be snatched while pursuing knockouts.
His fixation is leaving him vulnerable. For as much as it’s fun to watch Guillard’s aggression, it plays out like roulette.
Yet the case of Guillard is interesting, because so many people -- coaches, fans, honchos at Zuffa -- see him as a fighter that’s a few tweaks from being a champion. He has the quicks and athleticism to rival any lightweight, and arguably the strongest hands in the division. There’s no doubting his explosiveness. In fact, he had Miller in trouble early by landing some big shots. Then again, lapses in judgment have always hindered him, both in and out of the cage. And those lapses in judgment in the cage put him in all kinds of hot water against smart grapplers, the kind who feast on mistakes.
Lauzon told me that he was leery of four offensive moves that Guillard presented, and he had them easily memorized before their fight. He saw all of them in the 47 seconds they stood across from each other. As for the defensive side of the equation? No worries at all -- Guillard trends offensively. He trusts his offense enough to override any specific holes in his submission defense.
And at this point that sort of thinking is the problem unless he’s fighting somebody who accommodates him by not playing jiu-jitsu.
Against wrestlers (Shane Roller, Evan Dunham, Waylon Lowe), Guillard does fine. Against guys who like to stand and bang (Jeremy Stephens, Dennis Siver), he’s right at home. But against submission specialists (Nate Diaz, Joe Lauzon, Jim Miller), guys who can force mistakes or at the very least pounce on them, he gets caught.
After the Miller choke, ESPN.com’s Brett Okamoto suggested Guillard needed to be locked in a room with some black belts for a year, then he’d return a champion. Whether that’s true or not, it couldn’t hurt.
But the mistakes are the thing. Against Miller it was an ill-timed flying knee that allowed the grappler to get things to the ground. From there it was clinical -- just as Miller went to mount, Guillard scrambled and gave up his back. Seconds later, he was tapping.
This has become a recurring theme for Guillard, who for just a little while at Greg Jackson’s Academy in Albuquerque seemed to have found a balance in his game that might be described best as “smart aggressiveness.” The thing that Jackson and striking coach Mike Winkeljohn were working on with Guillard was ultimately judgment, with a broader focus on his maturity. He was riding a five-fight winning streak when he left Jackson’s for Boca Raton midway through training for Lauzon. Up until then, he was beating wrestlers and boxers.
Since then he’s 0-2 against jiu-jitsu aces. Losing the way he did long before he got to Jackson’s.
Would it have mattered if he’d stayed in New Mexico? Who knows. But Guillard is a work in progress, and it’s been a pretty lousy week for the Blackzilians.