There’s a reason that the UFC is so strict in cutting fighters who lose just two or three fights in the organization. As much as people may say that “anything can happen in MMA,” the sport is actually not as variable as might be expected. Generally speaking, a fighter who begins his UFC career 3-3 isn’t going to end up becoming the champion. In fact, of the UFC’s seven current champions, only one (Anderson Silva) even has three losses on his record total.
That’s why it’s fun to watch fighters like Melvin Guillard turn things around. After losing at UFC 79 to Rich Clementi, and making an ass of himself in the process, Guillard has seemed to really mature as both a person and as a fighter. No longer is he the man who tested positive for cocaine abuse and struggled to beat average UFC opponents; now, while working with Greg Jackson’s camp, Guillard seems to be focused and is 7-1 since the infamous Clementi fight. His most impressive win was definitely his most recent, as Guillard’s strength and striking ability overwhelmed Evan Dunham.
With all of that said, it’s hard for me to see Guillard actually becoming champion in the UFC. Guillard’s strength may have been enough to fend off the takedown attempts of Dunham, but defending the takedowns of fighters like Frank Edgar, Gray Maynard, and Jim Miller is a much more difficult task. And whether or not Guillard’s ground game – historically the weak part of his game, as seven of his eight losses are by submission – has improved along with his other improvements is an open question.
Can Shane Roller test Guillard’s ground game? It’s hard to think that he’s more likely to take Guillard down than Evan Dunham was, and Roller’s striking is unremarkable. In his last fight, against Thiago Tavares, Roller was getting thoroughly out-pointed before suddenly landing a KO punch. It’s hard to think that Roller would survive long enough in a striking war against Guillard to get that KO. Roller needs to take this fight to the ground, or at the very least, suck Guillard into the clinch.
One way Roller can be particularly dangerous in this fight is with the guillotine choke. It accounts for three of Roller’s six submission victories, and Guillard has submitted to the guillotine three times in the past: against Nate Diaz, Joe Stevenson, and Carlo Prater. If Roller is unable to take Guillard to the ground via conventional means, he may go to the guillotine as an attempt to finish the fight, or at the very least, get to the ground in bottom position.
SILVA PREDICTION: SHANE ROLLER (35.76) OVER MELVIN GUILLARD (31.54)
If you’ve been feeling deprived of big upset SILVA picks to watch out for, be deprived no longer. SILVA thinks that Roller will get the job done. It’s hard for me to see it. Again, Roller’s striking against Tavares was very unimpressive, and I have a tough time thinking that Roller will be able to take Guillard down and hold him down. I know, I said I wouldn’t pick against SILVA anymore, but then fights like Soszynski-Massenzio happen and I can’t help but go back on my promise. Most fighters who appear to have turned their career around are illusions, but I think Guillard’s sudden improvement is legitimate. So just as I was wrong in picking Chris Lytle to beat SILVA’s pick in Brian Ebersole, and as I was wrong to pick Anthony Pettis to beat SILVA’s pick in Clay Guida, I’m putting myself out there again. SILVA’s pick is Shane Roller, and my pick in Melvin Guillard… we’ll see who’s right in the end.