Melvin Guillard is returning to the cage early.
The former UFC and World Series of Fighting competitor will meet Chidi Njokuani in the main event of Bellator 171 on Jan. 27 in Mulvane, Kansas, sources told MMA Fighting on Tuesday.
Guillard was suspended one year by the Kansas Athletic Commission (KAC) back in August after failing an in-competition drug test in relation to his bout with David Rickels on July 22, 2016. The commission cannot lawfully release the name of the substance Guillard tested positive for, but sources said it was cocaine, which Guillard has popped for previously in his career.
After agreeing to go to rehab and completing the program, Guillard’s suspension was reduced to six months. The Louisiana native still had to pay a $10,000 fine and his knockout victory over Rickels was overturned to a no contest.
KAC boxing commission Adam Roorbach confirmed that the commission unanimously voted to reinstate Guillard after he successfully completed rehabilitation. He said the parties came to an agreement, because it was a recreational drug and stems from a drug issue, not blatant attempt to cheat.
Guillard (32-16-2, 3 NC) has struggled with weight-cutting issues, missing the lightweight mark in four of his last five bouts. The fight against Njokuani will be at a 175-pound catchweight. Guillard, 33, was once a heralded UFC prospect and is still considered an exciting, all-action fighter.
Njokuani (16-4, 1 NC) has won three straight since coming to Bellator and has not lost a bout since 2013. The brother of former WEC and UFC veteran Anthony Njokuani is coming off a 21-second knockout of Andre Fialho last month.
In the co-main event, Kansas native Rickels takes on Aaron Derrow in a lightweight bout.