SEATTLE – UFC lightweight Melvin Guillard wanted to send a message by beating Mac Danzig at UFC on FOX 8.
Now, after knocking out "The Ultimate Fighter 6" winner in highlight-reel fashion, he wants to keep busy by fighting at UFC 166, which takes place Oct. 19 in his former hometown of Houston.
Guillard (31-12-2 MMA, 12-8 UFC) expressed no preference of opponents and told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com
), "I don't care who I fight. As long as they put them in front of me, I'll fight them."
Before he returns to his new training home at Denver's Grudge Training Center, where he spent three months preparing for Danzig (21-11-1 MMA, 5-7 UFC), "The Young Assassin" will fly to Florida to reunite with his wife for a week. He'll then fly to his native New Orleans to spend two weeks with his sister, who's preparing to undergo brain surgery.
Guillard stressed the importance of family in his impressive turnaround. This past week, he missed his grandmother's funeral to complete his training camp for UFC on FOX 8. Although noticeably more serious than celebratory following his win, he said his focus remained strong in the cage.
"Part of me just felt like I needed to send a message," he said. "I know I can be a brash and jolly guy sometimes, but tonight was about business. It was about redemption; it was about keeping my job. There were a lot of things going through my mind after the fight."
During the bout, Guillard said he tried to get Danzig to advance and repay him in close. In the second frame, the strategy paid off handsomely when he landed a stiff left hand that sent a dazed Danzig to the canvas. Follow-up hammerfists sealed the deal.
"I was actually surprised that the jab was the punch that knocked him out," said Guillard. "The right hand didn't even land as he was going down. I have to go back and watch it, but it was jab, then straight right. By the time I was throwing the right, he was already turning and falling.
"It was just about getting the job done and taking him out impressively."
Guillard's professional life was surrounded in controversy upon his arrival in Denver. After departing from the Blackzilians in Florida, his attempt to return to his former camp at Jackson-Winkeljohn's MMA was blocked, and he was forced to address a pair of assault charges from 2010.
The new surroundings seemed to rejuvenate Guillard, who was 1-4 in his past five outings before UFC on FOX 8.
"I felt great," he said. "I'm happy with my performance. I listened to my coaches. Being up in Denver for four months, the altitude helped big time. I wasn't even tired at all. I probably did 25 minutes of mitts in the back before I went out. I was sweating hard before I got in the ring, so I was able to get that first fight out of the way and be patient and not get nervous."
Although he's seen the immediate benefits of his move, Guillard said he won't be moving his family to Denver, but rather revisiting the basement of Grudge's fighter house when he gets his next fight. It's in the Rockies where he hopes to build momentum.
"I just dedicated myself to my craft all over again," he said. "Right now, I'm going back home, be with my wife for a bit, stick to my diet until Thanksgiving. I want to fight Oct. 19 in Houston. I still have a bad taste in my mouth after that fight with (Joe) Lauzon (at UFC 136), and I want to be able to put on a show in front of my family again.
"This time it won't be a quick loss. It will be me getting my hand raised."