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Panic-Free, Melvin Guillard Eyes Title Shot in 2011

FORT HOOD, Texas – Great comeback stories in sports are so common they're a threat to become a cliche. Such might be the case with Melvin Guillard – if he was less believable in his desire to become one of those great comebacks.

Guillard continued on that path Saturday night with a convincing win over Evan Dunham in the main event of the UFC's Fight for the Troops 2 card at Fort Hood. Dunham's only loss before Guillard rolled through him came against Sean Sherk at UFC 119 – and that was a fight even UFC president Dana White said he was ignoring because of controversial judging.

But Guillard gave Dunham – and his boss – something to think about besides Dunham's record with a barrage of knees that won the fight in the first round. The win was Guillard's fourth straight and seventh in his last eight fights. He said it's just the beginning.

"I'm going to make my run," Guilard said, echoing comments he's been making for weeks leading into the Dunham fight. "This is my dream. I have a legacy, and at the end of the day I have a great story to tell some day when I'm an old man. That's part of my legacy to fulfill, and I will get that belt."

In the UFC's suddenly highly competitive lightweight division, champion Frankie Edgar rematches with Gray Maynard at UFC 130 in May. And former WEC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis, who was to get the Edgar-Maynard winner before their title fight at UFC 125 wound up in a draw, will face Clay Guida in June.

But Guillard said he believes he's right in the mix and that he plans on going unbeaten in 2011 – and getting a shot at the belt.

"Honestly, I feel like I should be next in line," Guillard said. "It's been a long time coming. I know these guys like Pettis ... he's a great champion, and I'm sure he'll get the next shot at it. But it doesn't matter. I told Joe Silva I don't want to sit around and wait on a key fight. I don't like sitting out – I don't even like waiting three months to fight. I'd like to fight again on the Vegas card that's coming up for the Super Bowl."

Long considered a troublemaker in the UFC, Guillard, a contestant on Season 2 of "The Ultimate Fighter," Guillard was suspended by the Nevada State Athletic Commission in 2007 after testing positive for cocaine. Guillard acknowledges he was running with the wrong crowd, but that he's a changed man outside the Octagon – and inside thanks to Greg Jackson.

"Being at Coach Jackson's, training with guys like Carlos Condit, Donald Cerrone – I have a lot of great guys that roll with me every day," Guillard said. "I even roll around with Jon Jones, and he's freaking huge. I don't panic any more. That's the difference between the Melvin of today and the Melvin you saw two or three years ago."

Even fellow Louisiana native Pat Barry, also a winner on the Troops card, said he's seen plenty of changes in Guillard now compared to when he first knew him as a teenager.

"He's matured and grown into a man," Barry said.

At only 27 years old, Guillard's experience in the cage – in both sanctioned fights and plenty of off-the-books bouts – belies his age. Still, he believes getting to that title shot won't be easy – but he's ready for the challenge.

"I've been doing this ... since I was 16," Guillard said. "I put in my time, good or bad. The losses – I've learned from losses. I go in there now, I still feel like I'm 19 years old and I'm only 27. I still have a long road ahead of me, and it's going to be tough."

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