Most stories about Melvin Guillard begin with a “what if.” What if Guillard fulfilled his potential? What if the New Orleans native was able to push down his personal demons long enough to make a real UFC title run?
That narrative doesn’t just begin and end on some MMA website. It is fully acknowledged by the man himself.
“I’ve always been my own worst enemy,” Guillard told MMA Fighting. “I think that’s every human being’s problem in life. Every human suffers with something — where you can be better at something you’re good at, yet you’re still where you’re at.”
In a career with high highs and even lower lows, Guillard is in a pretty significant valley right now. He’s coming off a one-year suspension for testing positive for cocaine last July. The ban was reduced to six months by the Kansas Athletic Commission (KAC) after Guillard successfully completed a rehabilitation program. It was his second time testing positive for the drug in his career.
The positive drug test overturned his knockout win over David Rickels to a no contest. Before that victory, Guillard had been on a three-fight losing skid. He hasn’t officially won a fight since 2014 and has missed weight in four of his last five fights.
Guillard, 33, doesn’t want to go into talk about drugs or rehab. The incredibly talented athlete wants to turn the conversation from “what if” to what’s next. Guillard meets Chidi Njokuani in the main event of Bellator 171 on Friday night in Mulvane, Kan.
The way “The Young Assassin” sees it, getting older isn’t all that bad.
“Right now I think I’m at my most dangerous time of my career,” Guillard said. “I’ve seen a lot of fighters that I looked up to become late bloomers. I was an early bloomer, then I kind of bloomed away and now all of a sudden I’m getting that secondary bloom again. I’m excited for what’s in the future.”
Guillard (32-16-2, 3 NC) has a different perspective than those on the outside, of course. Many who have followed his career, going back to a nine-year run in the UFC, saw a world of potential. Guillard has always been athletic enough, fast enough, powerful enough and skillful enough to become a titleholder. But mentally, maybe, that was never a good outcome in the first place.
“I probably could have been world champion a long time in Bellator or UFC,” Guillard said. “But had I been that, I’d probably be in prison right now. The things that I was doing and the ways I was acting and feeling invincible at times, that’s the reason why now is my prime and it wasn’t my prime then.”
Guillard has been training the last few months near his South Florida home. He said he has taken a pair of backyard fights since his suspension to pay the bills and has a burgeoning business in that industry. But the focus for him has been on family, Guillard said, and that is the key toward working his way back up the MMA ladder.
“It’s easy,” Guillard said. “You start thinking about your wife and trying to have kids and starting to have some kind of life. As long as I keep my wife first, then I’ll be alright.
“When you grow up and you get older, you get more mature. That’s pretty much what it is.”
One thing he definitely won’t have to worry about anymore is getting down to lightweight. The fight with Njokuani is at a catchweight of 180 points and Guillard weighed in Thursday at 178.1 pounds.
“I’m done cutting weight,” Guillard said. “I want to enjoy the last few years of my career. I don’t want to have to be stressed out cutting weight. I want to have fun again. I want it to be fun again. Cutting 25, 30 pounds, it takes the fun out of it. It takes everything out of you. I’m over it.”
Not yet over fighting, though. That will likely always be part of Guillard’s life, whether he’s referred to in the future as “The Young Assassin” or a new nickname. Maybe something like “Secondary Bloom.”