When Melvin Guillard travels to Oklahoma City for his fight with Nate Diaz on September 16, it should be the last time he’ll need to ask permission from his probation officer first.
The 26-year-old New Orleans native, who first entered the UFC as a contestant on the second season of The Ultimate Fighter, is now two fights and two wins deep into his second stint with the UFC with a new outlook on things. But for much of 2007 and 2008, Guillard’s life in and outside the cage was marred by bad fortune and bad decisions.
After losing his 2007 fight with Joe Stevenson, Guillard tested positive for a metabolite of cocaine and received an eight-month suspension from the Nevada State Athletic Commission. In August 2007, he was arrested for possession of a controlled substance and received two years probation. He lost to Rich Clementi at UFC 79 and was subsequently cut from the UFC. Even after a win at Rage in the Cage 105 and a quick knockout of Dennis Siver in his return at UFC 86, personal problems never stayed far behind. In August 2008, just a month after the fight, Guillard was arrested for violating probation.
Guillard takes the blame for all of the mistakes that he’s made—“It was all my fault, nobody else’s,” he says – except for the probation violation. “At the time, I had a probation officer who was very rude and didn’t really care for what I do. She was very jealous because of my pay…Well, when I left (to go to UFC 86), she gave me the okay to leave, but she never gave me my (travel) permit.”
“When I got back, part of the stipulations (of my parole) is to check back in and take a UA (urine analysis),” he says. “Well, that didn’t happen—she didn’t let me come in and take the UA, so then they popped me for another UA saying that I was dirty when I really wasn’t. It was because I missed the UA, it automatically comes up as a false UA.” Guillard received a sentence of two months in Houston’s Harris County Jail and three months in a rehab facility. Subsequently, he was pulled from a scheduled bout with Spencer Fisher at UFC 90.
Some former UFC fighters have been banished for lesser infractions. “Honestly, when I thought I was gonna be locked up for five months, I thought they were gonna kick me out, throw away the key, and I’d never see the light of the UFC again,” Guillard says. But the UFC has been forgiving: he says they’ve issued no reprimands, no ultimatums, no threats that this is the last straw. Guillard says Dana White and company know he’s made mistakes, but that he’s a good kid and an exciting fighter nonetheless. “They know I’m the guy they can call on and I’m never gonna turn down a fight,” he says.
After his release last January, Guillard fought against Gleison Tibau at The Ultimate Fighter 9 Finale last June, winning a split decision in a fight that was “too close for comfort,” he says. To help his progress for the Diaz fight, he’s added two strength and conditioning coaches to his team to ensure he doesn’t get tired. “I’m pretty much approaching this fight the way I approached the Gleison fight. The only difference is I know for a fact Diaz won’t be as strong as Gleison was,” Guillard says.
Once his probation ends on October 9, Guillard plants to accompany MMA trainer Saul Soliz on a trip to Big Bear, California to train with Tito Ortiz. “Basically, I’m gonna be a free man after October 9 and I’m gonna take advantage of that,” he says. Whether it’s the un-televised undercard or the main card, Guillard wants to fight at UFC 106, the card that features Tito’s return. The only person Guillard needs to clear that trip with is UFC matchmaker Joe Silva.