This Friday night the UFC will host their inaugural fight card on the FOX sister platform FX with an action-packed fight card, sitting atop of the bill is a lightweight clash between the experience veterans Jim Miller and Melvin Guillard.
Both men are sitting in familiar territory heading into their clash at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee having snapped their long winning streaks in the most talent rich division and this bout would have likely been a title-eliminator if it weren’t for their recent setbacks.
The first event of 2010 featured Frankie Edgar facing all the adversity the average man could handle and then some in his Rocky Balboa esque performance that saw him and Gray Maynard fight to a draw putting the title on ice and closing the door to contenders.
Due to the duos impressive resumes and the high-level of competition both have faced during their time in the elite mixed martial arts organization a mind-blowing performance by either man could leapfrog them to the top of the queue to challenge the winner of Frankie Edgar vs. Benson Henderson of February 26 in Japan.
Guillard was once upon a time considered one of the biggest disappointments in the game, with a natural athleticism and stunning power in his hands “The Young Assassin” failed to live up to the hype early on and a positive test for cocaine use didn’t help his case for being one of the best in the game down the line but he proved us all wrong.
In 2010 he really hit his stride going on a five bout unbeaten streak brutalizing the likes of Jeremy Stephens, Evan Dunham & Shane Roller to push him into a comfortable position in the lightweight ranks before his overconfidence got the better of him when he was submitted by Joe Lauzon.
Miller, who recently brought his second child into the world silently chipped away at a seven bout unbeaten streak that forced UFC matchmaker Joe Silva to take a serious look at him as a contender.
In a bout that was falsely rumored to be a title-eliminator Miller fought one of the finest combatants to sport the WEC’s blue gloves Benson Henderson. Despite being considered the favorite by most he was outclassed by Henderson, dropping a thrilling victory on the judges’ score cards putting Henderson in an elite group of men able to beat the native of Sparta, New Jersey.
It was back to the drawing board for both men following these defeats forcing them to re-evaluate their entire game in preparation for this highly anticipated affair.
In a straight kick boxing match there is a clear advantage to Guillard, he has more weapons on his striking arsenal. The proud Blackzillian is comfortable throwing anything on the feet with mind-numbing power in his hands and deadly knees that he likes to punish the body with. However, he has a tendency to get very wild with his striking which could hurt him in the long-run.
Miller isn’t going to be starching his opponents on the feet anytime soon but he is a well-versed striker with good fundamentals. He has a significant speed edge on his opponent and shows solid boxing and good head movement that could give Guillard fits.
Guillard knows that he has the advantage on the feet and will look to come in early with an onslaught, throwing caution to the wind in exciting fashion that will either be the best or worst thing he’s done in a while.
Make no mistake though; the part-time brewer of a fine beer doesn’t want to strike with Guillard for an extended period of time he wants to take it to the floor which is the main chink in Guillard’s armor.
Miller has been wrestling since his childhood and when he gets his opponent to the floor he is in his element with his submission grappling possibly being the best part of his game. With 13 submission victories against his name you must keep an eye on your limbs at all times against this Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under Jamie Cruz.
It might raise a few eyebrows to those unaware but Guillard was a state-wrestling champion during his formative years and when he hooked up with Greg Jackson in 2010 his takedown defense and wrestling game in general had shown huge strides of improvement.
The size and strength of Guillard could be something to cause problems for Miller who could comfortably make 145-pounds – Avoiding the takedown over and over is his best bet to winning this fight because if he is placed on his back Miller is relentless using his striking game to find openings and put you to sleep in the blink of an eye and with eight of nine defeats by submission it is his kryptonite.
Conditioning should not prove to be a huge factor for either combatant in tomorrow night’s Main Event – The pair of 28-year-olds have both been 15 minutes comfortably without showing signs of fatigue many times and I would expect no different here.
One factor we have to really consider moving into this clash is Guillard’s highly-debated decision to pack his bags and move to Florida to train with the Blackzillians, leaving Greg Jackson’s gym which has been a key asset to him during his most successful run.
The Blackzillian team is headed by vale-tudo competitor Mike Van Arsdale and is home to some quality wrestlers in Rashad Evans and Michael Johnson who will help him preparing to keep this fight in his element.
Come Friday his decision to move to the developing gym with either hurt or hinder him in a striker vs. grappler main event in a throwback to the early days of the organizations history, don’t you dare miss this one.
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