Melvin Guillard is back in the cage for Bellator’s first tentpole event of the year, Bellator 149. The show is headlined by Ken Shamrock and Royce Gracie and features Kimbo Slice and Dada 5000 in the co-main slot.
“I been on cards bigger than this,” Guillard told Combat Press. “I’m used to the spotlight. This is actually the second time I’m blessed to fight on a card with Royce Gracie. I fought on the Matt Hughes-Royce Gracie card back in California when I knocked out Rick Davis. I been in big fights [and] I’ve been headlining a big fight, so, for me, the magnitude of the fight doesn’t bother me at all.”
Guillard will open the televised portion of the card, just one event removed from when he was the headliner. That event was Bellator 141, where he dropped a split decision to Brandon Girtz.
“I’m okay with any spot on the card; it doesn’t matter,” said Guillard. “At the end of the day, when I’m in there, people gonna be tuned in, going, ‘Oh, it’s Melvin fighting.’ There’s still a lot of people that don’t know I’m fighting on this card, because of the Kimbo and Dada hype and with Royce Gracie and Ken fighting. I’m flying under the radar for this fight, actually, and I’m excited about that because when the TV come on and it shows that I am fighting, people gonna go, ‘Oh shit,’ and people’s phones gonna start ringing — ‘Oh man, Melvin’s fighting! Turn on Spike.’ So, what ratings they did have are going to spike.”
Guillard’s original opponent for Bellator 149 was Mike Bronzoulis. However, a few weeks ago Bronzoulis pulled out of the fight, leaving Guillard without a dance partner. Immediately afterwards, there were reports that Patricky Freire had stepped up and was scheduled to fight the UFC veteran, but that Guillard decided to pull out. That report, says Guillard, is anything but true.
“I was already scheduled to fight on this card. I was scheduled to fight Mike Bronzoulis. I was booked since December, alright,” said Guillard. “Patricky fought two weeks, three weeks ago and happened to get lucky and knock out Ryan Couture. And then, because Mike Bronzoulis pulled out two weeks ago, he tried to network himself onto this fight without asking to fight me. That’s what it was.
“I never say no to no fight. I’m going to fight Patricky. He’s going to be next on my hit list. I promise you I’m gonna fight him in April. He doesn’t have to wait too long. I never say no to a fight. I just didn’t think the timeline was appropriate for me, because I’m coming off a six-month layoff with a snapped wrist and I don’t want to fight a top-five contender my first fight back. If the shoe was on the other foot, would he do it? I don’t think he would.”
In stepped Derek Campos instead. Campos is a veteran of 21 fights, with eight of those fights taking place inside the Bellator cage. Like Guillard, Campos suffered his last defeat at the hands of the aforementioned Girtz.
“I respect Campos because he stood up and took the fight when nobody else would,” Guillard said. “I’m not the easiest guy in the world to wake up for and say, ‘I gotta fight Melvin today.’ Physically, he probably has all the attributes. It’s the mental game that fucks with guys, because he doesn’t know what Melvin will show up. By the time that cage locks, his confidence will be gone, because at the end of the day, I’m Melvin Guillard. He should be afraid to fight me.
“But I do take my hat off to Campos. He’s stepping up to fight because Mike pulled out two weeks [before the fight] and he still hasn’t disclosed anything for why he’s hurt. Nobody even said why he’s hurt. Even Bellator doesn’t even know, and I don’t think that should be fair that fighters [are] pulling out of fights without disclosing what’s going on — not having a medical report saying, ‘Hey, I broke my ribs,’ or, ‘Hey, I have a torn MCL.’ You should have medical proof before you pulling out [of] a fight. He got scared. He got scared. Period. I’ll call it like it is.”
Recently, it hasn’t been clear which Guillard will show up on fight night. The ability has always been there. He’s a fighter with impressive wins over such talented fighters as Dennis Siver, Jeremy Stephens and Evan Dunham. Motivation has seemingly been an issue for Guillard, as well as nagging injuries that had taken their toll. However, he’s healthy now and he says his mind is in the right place.
“This time last year, I didn’t even know if I wanted to fight anymore,” Guillard said. “I was battling injuries with my hand just not wanting to cooperate. I knew I wasn’t knocking guys out and finishing guys like I knew I should. I got my hand fixed and that was a blessing. When doctors first went in there, they told me I might not be able to fight again. When I woke up in surgery, and they told me I was good to go, that was like God giving me a second chance at this. I’m gonna take every opportunity to make the best of this opportunity. I want to become the Bellator welterweight and lightweight champion while I’m in this business.”