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Melvin Guillard believes he’s the lightweight to beat in the UFC

Guillard further moves up ranks after destruction of Shane Roller at UFC 132

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Justin M. Bowen

Melvin Guillard takes the stage during the weigh in for UFC 132 Friday, July 1, 2011 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

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Melvin Guillard winds up to hit Shane Roller in their lightweight bout at UFC 132 Saturday, July 2, 2011, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Guillard won by knockout in the second round.

If emphatic knockout power and a soaring confidence level are two of the most dangerous ingredients in a fighter, then Melvin Guillard is akin to an F5 tornado blowing through the UFC lightweight division.

Guillard (28-8-2 UFC, 10-4 UFC) flattened Shane Roller (10-4 MMA, 1-1 UFC) last weekend at UFC 132 with a series of punches, knees and hammer fists two minutes into their fight. Roller was the third man to fall victim to a first round knockout against Guillard, who has won five straight, in the past 13 months.

“Nobody is going to beat me,” Guillard said after his fight. “I will be No. 1. I promise.”

Guillard’s recent roll would be enough to get him a chance at a title in almost any other weight class. But the UFC’s 155-pound division is the promotion’s deepest, made more so by the merging of WEC lightweight fighters at the beginning of this year.

A delayed third meeting between champion Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard — which is now rumored for UFC 136 October 8 in Houston — has also helped hold the weight class hostage. Unlike earlier this year after he upset Evan Dunham, Guillard is exercising patience and not demanding a championship bout anytime soon.

“The more it takes for them to give me a title shot, the more I feel bad for the guy I fight for the title,” Guillard said.

This all seemed improbable two years ago. From 2007 to 2009, Guillard went a mediocre 2-3 in the UFC.

He wasn’t serious enough about his career and, by his own admission, spent too much time partying in nightclubs and not enough hours in the gym. UFC President Dana White urged him to get his life together, a message that has stuck with Guillard.

While many envisioned Guillard as a lifelong middle-tier fighter during that time, White thought he was capable more. White first met Guillard six years ago when he participated in the second season of “The Ultimate Fighter” and immediately believed he had the talent to compete at the UFC’s highest level.

“He was out there not doing all the right things to become the great fighter that he had the potential to be,” White said. “Now, he has. It's good to see him living up to the potential. He's fast, he's explosive, he's talented. He's got great wrestling. He's got dynamite in both hands. He can kick. He can move. He's a scary 155-pounder."

Guillard will need one or potentially two more wins before a lightweight championship fight. Jim Miller, who has won seven fights in a row, will get the winner of Edgar vs. Maynard if he can beat Ben Henderson in August.

The matchup that makes the most sense for Guillard, who is lobbying to fight at UFC 136 because he lives in Houston, is fellow contender Clay Guida. But Guillard said he wouldn’t consider the fight because the two are teammates at Greg Jackson’s camp in Albuquerque, N.M.

If he had to face Guida for a title, however, that would change.

"I'll fight for my brother for that UFC title. I'll fight my mother for that UFC title,” Guillard said. “I'm serious dude. That's from my heart. When that time comes when I have to fight a teammate, we have to sort out how we will do our training camps and may the best man win. I will be the better man that day."

Guillard has changed a lot about himself, but the bravado remains.

"When guys are scheduled to fight me, I know they don't want that fight,” Guillard said. “A lot of times their managers try to go other routes or fight other guys. I'm the one guy that fighters right now don't want to fight. This is my time. I'm at the peak of my career and I'm not even in my prime."

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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