When the lightweight matchup between Melvin Guillard and Jamie Varner was removed from The Ultimate Fighter 16 finale two weekends ago at the last minute after Varner became ill just hours before their fight, it was immediately rescheduled for this Saturday’s year-end UFC 155, also in Las Vegas.
But the delay only gave time for Guillard to add some extra fuel to the fire in the lead-up to their preliminary card bout. In an interview with Sherdog Radio, Guillard said what he thought of Varner’s illness.
“I think it was a little bit of fear, a little bit of nerves and it got the best of him… I get undressed out of my suit and I put on my fight gear and I’m warming up now… and not even 15-20 minutes later, the commissioner walks in and says, ‘Melvin, I think your fight might get scratched.’”
Watch Guillard vs. Varner as part of a four-fight televised undercard on Sportsnet on Saturday starting at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT. Sportsnet.ca will also stream three preliminary fights starting at 6:30 p.m. ET / 3:30 p.m. PT.
This is a great match-up between two guys swimming hard to keep their heads above water in the very deep lightweight division. There is a lot at stake for the future of both of these fighters and it should be fierce battle. Guillard continued with his comments and the bout took another interesting twist.
“I’m in the locker room getting my rules meeting from the ref, and the end of that rules meeting was a little disturbing because the referee was like, ‘His corner wanted me to let you know that they are a little concerned about you greasing.’ I’m like, ‘What?’ I’ve done nothing but respect this guy and his camp. I’ve said nothing bad about him or his camp, and (they’re) going to sit there and try to falsely accuse me of possibly greasing?”
Many critics have been balking at the frequency of events in the modern era of the UFC but this fight getting rescheduled to an upcoming card so quickly is one of the positives of that same criticism. These two will not have to wait at all to settle their obvious differences.
Guillard is always exciting with lighting fast and powerful hands, but he is 1-3 in his last four times out in the UFC with losses to Joe Lauzon, Jim Miller and Donald Cerrone. Guillard must bring a more committed and diverse game to the cage to be able to compete with the biggest sharks in the division. Varner is not quite considered one of those big sharks yet and if Melvin can keep this one standing, I like his chances.
Varner on the other hand has had a recent resurgence in his career with an upset win over Edson Barboza after a long layoff, followed by a Fight of the Night loss against Joe Lauzon. Varner is less dynamic but a little more well-rounded than Guillard and more mentally tough. He will want to make sure that he takes this one deep enough that his advantages are a factor in the fight.
The winner of this fight will find himself right in the thick of things among the top contenders in the lightweight division and could find himself up against the likes of a Nate Diaz or Gray Maynard in the future. He could also be an exciting welcome mat for possible newcomers Gilbert Melendez or Eddie Alvarez.
But make no mistake, the added fuel has really “greased” an already exciting matchup with a lot more anticipation.
Dwight Wakabayashi is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report UFC and regular contributor to Sportsnet.ca’s UFC section. Follow him on Twitter @wakafightermma.