Melvin Guillard’s title hopes were conceivably pushed back another three to four months this week when it was announced a lightweight title fight between Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard was off due to injuries to both fighters.
But as much as Guillard is looking forward to his shot at standing atop the highly talented 155-pound weight class, he’s willing to remain patient and would strongly oppose any notion for the promotion to dust off an interim belt while Edgar and Maynard heal.
“I don’t have any kids, but if I did, I wouldn’t want to take my interim belt out and say, ‘Yes. Back in the day, your dad was the interim lightweight champion,” Guillard told ESPN.com. “I’d rather not have a belt. I’d rather say, ‘Son, I went out as a No. 1 contender.’
“I want to see [Edgar and Maynard] fight. Right now, they need to weed out champions. You have [WEC champion] Anthony Pettis and [Strikeforce champion] Gilbert Melendez still in line. We need one, dominant champion. That way me or Jim Miller can come along and beat the real champion.”
It’s the type of attitude a younger, less-mature Guillard might not have taken. As recently as two years ago, Guillard probably would have taken any belt he could get his hands on and immediately worn it out to the nearest nightclub.
But the 28-year-old lightweight underwent a well-documented turnaround last year, kicking his party habits and going a perfect 3-0 in the Octagon. That mindset has continued in 2011, as he finished Evan Dunham in the first round of their main event fight in January.
Guillard says even his approach to the UFC Fighters Summit in Las Vegas this week has been different than in years past. Whereas he used to look at it as a chance to hit the Strip’s night scene, this year he’s brought a tape recorder and a notebook.
His wife called him one night, just to make sure he was behaving. Guillard missed the call because he was already in bed.
“I want to go to bed, get a good night’s sleep and go to these meetings,” Guillard said. “I brought my tape recorder and I’ve been taking notes. I came prepared. I want to know how the UFC is going to help me in my future.”
His approach has also helped eliminate any disappointment he might have felt from falling to the prelim card at UFC 132 after headlining an event in January. Guillard also says although he respects his opponent, Shane Roller, a win probably does nothing when it comes to his status in the division.
He’s looking at the summer fight as a way to make a statement before meeting fellow top contender Miller, hopefully in October.
“[Beating Roller] doesn’t elevate me,” Guillard said. “I’d rather take that fight though and not wait until September or October for Jim Miller. I think the Miller fight will happen before the end of this year. I want it to happen in October on the Houston card. I’m not overlooking Shane Roller; he’s tough. I have to make a statement and let Jim know I’m for real.”