Grudge Head Coach Trevor Wittman: Melvin Guillard’s “An Asset to Our Team”, “Needs Someone to Have His Back”
By Kelsey Mowatt
Since Melvin Guillard made his Octagon debut all the way back in 2005, the powerful fighter has had his well documented ups and down, which have seen him rise to the top of the UFC lightweight division only to come up short in certain key bouts. Recently the 30 year-old vet made a new training home at the renowned Grudge Training Center in Denver, Colorado, after deciding to part ways with the Blackzilians team in Florida. In the past, Guillard has acknowledged that his struggles have largely stemmed from mental breakdowns in the cage, rather than being ill prepared physically or not having highly developed skills. Grudge head trainer Trevor Wittman agrees with that analysis.
“One hundred percent a mental thing,” Wittman said on Full Contact Fighter Radio recently, while discussing Guillard’s setbacks. “Melvin is one of those guys who needs someone to have his back and the belief is key. When you believe you’re the best is such a huge thing. If you’re dealing with outside influences and other struggles outside of the gym that can affect all fighters.”
Guillard (30-12-2) is coming off back-to-back losses to Jamie Varner and Donald Cerrone, and is 1-4 in his last five fights, after putting together an impressive five fight run from 2010 through half of 2011. Before fighting Joe Lauzon at UFC 136, and losing by submission, Guillard had positioned himself within reach of a title shot.
“To make someone mentally strong, and make them into to it; a lot of times when this becomes a job you lose your passion and you lose your fire,” Wittman added. “You have to really know how to get that burning desire back and I really feel like we can do that with Melvin.”
Guillard made headlines in late March when he announced he was leaving the Blackzilians and was returning to his old gym, Jackson’s MMA in New Mexico. There were unresolved issues, with certain Team Jackson members, however, and the gym ultimately decided against welcoming Guillard back. Grudge Training Center was the feared striker’s next call.
“I’ve known Melvin for a while,” said Wittman, whose gym is affiliated with Jackson’s MMA. “We’ve been friends for a long period of time; I used to see him down at Jackson’s all the time and we got to touch on the mitts when he was fighting (Jim) Miller. I helped him out throughout the week until his coaches got there and you know we had a real good feel. It was really comfortable on the mitts and we flowed real nicely.”
“When he came into the gym it was just, I think it’s a great thing for him,” added Wittman. “The atmosphere we have at the gym, that loving, family atmosphere is what Melvin needs. He needs people to have his back and he’s going to be a great fit. He’s an asset to our team and I really feel we can be an asset to him.”
Guillard is scheduled to fight Mac Danzig at UFC on FOX 8, July 27th at Seattle’s KeyArena.