Fantasy Fights

Intelligent, unique MMA analysis

Why Fighters Like Melvin Guillard Fall Short Against Elite Competition

Before I get into my thoughts on the UFC on FX event from Saturday evening, let me start by correcting one of the SILVA scores I released on Thursday, prior to the event. When I was entering data for Daniel Pineda, I erroneously typed in Pineda’s loss to Johnny Bedford as a win. The result was that Pineda was reported as having a SILVA score of 44.97, when his real SILVA score was actually 37.18. This means that SILVA’s “real” prediction for Pineda’s fight against Pat Schilling was for Schilling to win. It’s tough for me to say that, because not only does that mean SILVA was incorrect about the fight after all, but SILVA was incorrect in a fight Pineda wound up winning in decisive fashion, meaning it reflects poorly on the system. Still, I believe that honesty is the best policy, and it’s important to point out when I make a mistake.

A full list of updated (and completely correct) SILVA scores can be viewed here.

Melvin Guillard entered into his fight against Joe Lauzon at UFC 136 with (according to Sherdog’s Fight Finder) a professional MMA record of 29-8-2. He also entered with a lot of hype, as he had won eight out of nine fights, including seven out of eight in the UFC. Guillard had a number of nice wins, but the one that really got buzz going was a first-round TKO of the highly regarded Evan Dunham. Dunham had entered his fight against Guillard with just one loss, and that loss was a very controversial one against Sean Sherk. For Guillard to beat such a fighter seemed to show that Guillard was capable of perhaps going all the way, and becoming the UFC lightweight champion. A subsequent KO win over Shane Roller did little to slow down the hype train.

All the while, however, there was a red flag flying over the whole idea of Guillard as championship contender, and it was a very simple one – those eight losses. To illustrate why Guillard having eight losses was a problem, let me list the record of all current UFC champions:

  • Junior dos Santos: 14-1
  • Jon Jones: 15-1
  • Anderson Silva: 31-4
  • Georges St-Pierre: 22-2
  • Frank Edgar: 14-1-1
  • Jose Aldo: 21-1
  • Dominick Cruz: 19-1

With the exception of Anderson Silva, all current UFC champions have just one or two losses, and it could be argued at least two of Silva’s four losses are of the fluky variety (DQ to Yushin Okami, flying scissor heel hook to Ryo Chonan). The point is that it’s very rare for a fighter who loses with frequency early in his career to be able to significantly improve at a relatively late stage of his career, especially to the point of becoming a championship-level fighter.

For a while, it appeared that Melvin Guillard had made such an improvement, but if you look a little closer, his run of eight wins in nine fights starts to appear a little less impressive, and not close to something worthy of championship contender hype. One win was against Eric Regan, who is currently 15-21. Two wins were by split decision, against Jeremy Stephens and Gleison Tibau, both of whom are respectable, but neither of whom are title contenders by any stretch of the imagination. It was truly impressive that Guillard won by TKO over Dunham and Dennis Siver, but it wasn’t quite so impressive that he beat guys like Shane Roller, Waylon Lowe, and Ronys Torres.

Don’t get me wrong, Guillard doesn’t need to apologize for merely consistently beating quality fighters like Roller and Lowe, or even very good fighters like Dunham and Siver. The problem is, as far as being a title contender is concerned, those wins don’t erase the losses Guillard suffered throughout his career. Guillard may have scored knockout and TKO wins, but the weakness that caused him to lose fights earlier in his career – his submission game – had never quite been addressed.

So it was that when Guillard faced Joe Lauzon, an opponent many (myself included) expected Guillard to clobber, it was instead Lauzon who hurt Guillard with a punch, and followed up with a submission in just 47 seconds. So it was that when the UFC had Guillard take on Jim Miller, still one of the very best lightweight fighters in the world despite his loss to Ben Henderson, it was Miller who scored a first-round submission victory despite Guillard’s early success in the fight.

It’s not a crime that Guillard managed to knock out fighters like Evan Dunham and Dennis Siver. Those are real accomplishments that fans of Guillard can be genuinely happy and excited about. However, when a fighter with eight or more losses makes a run in the UFC, the fact that the fighter in question scored a few nice wins doesn’t eliminate the underlying problem that caused him to lose so many fights in the first place. It’s not impossible for a fighter with more than a couple losses to become a UFC champion – many of us saw 25-10-1 Chael Sonnen come so close – but when you see a fighter with that many blemishes on his record start working his way toward a title shot, don’t get too excited, because the odds are very much against his going all the way to the top.

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