UFC Fight Night 37 Play: Michael Johnson (-135) vs Melvin Guillard (+125)

ufc-155UFC Fight Night 37 Date: March 8, 2014 Arena: O2 Arena City: London, England Lightweight bout: Michael Johnson (-135) vs Melvin Guillard (+125) Fight Breakdown: The co-main event for UFC Fight Night 37 will be an action-packed lightweight affair between a pair of tremendously quick and gifted strikers, when Blackzilian product Michael “The Menace” Johnson squares off against his former training partner, Melvin “The Young Assassin” Guillard. Johnson is currently a very slight favorite in this bout at -135 ($135 to win $100) and Guillard is barely an underdog at +125 ($100 to win $125) at Several Bookmakerss. MICHAEL JOHNSON (14-8 MMA, 6-4 UFC) will be making his return to the Octagon, following an incredibly impressive knockout over Gleison Tibau at UFC 168 just over two months ago. It was especially impressive because it was the first time Tibau had been stopped with strikes in seven years, and the very first time he had ever been knocked out in his professional mixed martial arts career. However, the Brazilian did suffer a TKO loss to Nick Diaz when he fought at welterweight in his UFC debut, and another TKO at the hands of Eiji Mitsuoka on the regional circuit early in his career. The win over Tibau followed another impressive performance, which came against veteran Joe Lauzon. The Blackzilian product dominated Lauzon for all three rounds of action, earning a convincing unanimous decision from the judges. Johnson’s offensive wrestling is average at best, but he showed great improvement in his defensive wrestling against Lauzon. His takedown defense has become very good, and even though he was submitted by Paul Sass and Reza Madadi, he has pretty good submission defense, as well. The 27 year olds best display of submission defense was in the third round in his fight against veteran Shane Roller. He spent the entire round with Roller on his back, but defended all submission attempts until the fight was over, and he went on to win a unanimous 29-28 decision, as he had clearly won the first two rounds. Johnson was an underdog who upset Roller, and then again an underdog who upset Lauzon. The veteran of The Ultimate Fighter season 12 has drastically improved his striking since Henri Hooft became his striking coach at the Blackzilians camp in Boca Raton, FL. His footwork has improved, as well. “The Menace” showcases excellent movement on the feet, uses his range well, and works a solid jab. He is a well-conditioned athlete with a good chin, and while taking this bout on short notice, I think he will be ready to go to work for all three rounds of action against his former training partner, should the fight go the distance. “THE YOUNG ASSASSIN” MELVIN GUILLARD (31-12-2-2 MMA, 12-8-0-1 NC UFC) is set to make his 22nd appearance inside the Octagon, coming off a no contest against Ross “The Real Deal” Pearson just over four months ago. He caught the Brit during a flying knee attempt and scored a takedown. As Pearson was getting up, Guillard landed a pair of knees, which were deemed illegal by the referee. Many fans believe the fight should have been ruled a TKO win for Guillard, while some feel Pearson should have taken the victory by disqualification, but ultimately the referee decided it was a no contest. The Pearson bout followed a very impressive and devastating knockout of Mac Danzig, so if the Pearson fight had been ruled a TKO win, then he would be on quite the two fight winning streak here. However, that is not the case, and the sad fact is that “The Young Assassin” has only two victories in his past seven bouts. His back is certainly not against the wall, but he is definitely in need of a win on Saturday. The 47 professional fight veteran is one of the most explosive lightweights in all of mixed martial arts. He has great footwork, and is incredibly fast on the feet, as well as with his hands. His punches are as powerful as they are fast. He definitely does a lot of damage with his fists, as well as the rest of his limbs. “The Young Assassin” is an incredibly gifted striker who loves to implement his knees, and is very effective with them. He likes to use them from inside the clinch, up against the cage, and even in flying attacks. He has used his brutal knees to stop both Evan Dunham and Waylon Lowe inside the Octagon. Guillard has a heavy lead overhand right he likes to use, as well as a leaping overhand left. He throws solid uppercuts, and likes to put together 1-2 combinations. He has excellent footwork, and is generally one of the most athletic fighters on the UFC roster. When the 30 year old veteran has his opponents hurt, he immediately pounces on them and looks for the kill. He is the classic example of a fighter with natural killer instinct. “The Young Assassin” tends to look for the knockout in his fights, or at least outpoint his opponents on the feet. It is not common to see him attempt to turn his contests into grappling heavy affairs. That is because he excels in the striking, but also because the ground game is his weakness, especially when it comes to submissions. Guillard has poor fight IQ, and that is mostly because he is often lost on the mat, especially against talented Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners, such as Jim Miller and Joe Lauzon. While he has been rocked and knocked out in the past, Guillard’s chin generally holds up, and he is pretty durable. He is most effective in the first round of action, but his cardio is good enough for 15 minutes. I expect him to be ready for a three round war against Johnson, should the fight hit the judges’ scorecards.   Fight Prediction: Submission defense is Guillard’s main weakness, so it is possible Johnson could use his striking to set-up takedowns, and attempt to take his back in order to set-up a rear naked choke submission attempt. While that is a possibility, even without the submission attempt, I think the majority of this bout will play out on the feet. Both of these lightweights have quick feet and quicker hands, so it would not be a shock to see either of them get their lights put out in front of the English crowd. That said, I think Johnson’s training with Henri Hooft at the Blackzilian’s camp in Florida is once again going to prove to be the difference in this bout. If “The Menace” doesn’t put “The Young Assassin” away, I think he will do enough to win on points. Gabe’s Pick: Michael Johnson by KO (punch, 1:19 round 2) Gabe’s Recommended Play: Michael Johnson (-135) 4.05u to win 3u

Written by Gabe Killian

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