Melvin Guillard Set to Compete in UK Bare-Knuckle Boxing Scene While Serving Suspension

Fightland Blog

By Jake Hughes

Photo by Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

In the past MMA fighters have shown creativity in getting around those pesky suspensions imposed on them by state athletic commissions for failed drug tests or falling foul of the rules of combat sports. It’s no surprise; given competition is most fighters’ main source of income.

Wanderlei Silva, who was given a lengthy suspension after literally running away from a random drug test in Las Vegas, opted to ply his trade in his former stomping ground Japan—competing in an exhibition two-on-two grappling match for Rizin FF against Sakuraba as his suspension was ongoing. Rouismar Palhares, who also fell foul to the Nevada Athletic Commission for holding onto a submission for too long against Jake Shields, ignored his suspension to compete for Venator FC in Italy, where he was swiftly knocked out by rising Norwegian star Emil “Valhalla” Meek.

Melvin Guillard is the latest to have joined the two Brazilians in Silva and Palhares by sourcing some fight income while serving a suspension—on the British bare-knuckle boxing scene.

Guillard was fined $10,000 and suspended by the Kansas Athletic Commission (KAC) for a year back in August following a failed drug test. Though non-specific on what drug had been taken, the KAC announced it was not for a performance enhancing drug (PED). This came after Guillard’s Bellator 159 win over Dave Rickels, which was later overturned to a No Contest. In 2007, Guillard had previously failed a drug test for cocaine following his 27-second submission loss to Joe Stevenson.

Led by local promotion UBBAD, bare-knuckle boxing has enjoyed somewhat of a renaissance over the last few years. This weekend, they are promoting an event which features MMA bouts, kickboxing matches as well as bare-knuckle competition with a special guest appearance from former world heavyweight boxing champion Larry Holmes. This show is allegedly being broadcast in front of a national audience in India.

The news was broken by UBBAD’s Facebook page. But, very little is known about the legitimacy of their claims. Guillard, himself, hasn’t announced anything and has stayed away from his social media accounts for well over a month.

Andy Topliffe is the man leading the UBBAD charge and looking to revitalise a scene which was once home to Great Britain’s most prized fight sport and household names such as Lenny McLean, Joe Joyce, Roy Shaw and one Charles Bronson. Topliffe was even the centrepiece of a VICE documentary which storied the resurgence of the bare-knuckle scene in the UK.

You can’t help but feel competing in the bare-knuckle boxing, or BKB, environment—one which sees men fight on a squared, grass pitch encased in bales of hay in operations less professional than UBBAD—seems a fall from grace for Guillard.

Often touted as one of the most natural athletes MMA has seen, Guillard is one of the sport’s young talents who never truly blossomed and fulfilled his perceived potential. Guillard fought for the UFC 22 times, going 12-9-1, before struggling on both the World Series of Fighting and Bellator rosters.

With an overall 32-16-2 record with three No Contests—two of which stems from his drug use—Guillard’s career has taken a slide over the last five years. In “The Young Assassin’s” last 13 fights, Guillard has lost eight of them, while two were No Contests.

It’s hard to not root for the man to earn some money to make ends meet while his MMA career remains in a purgatorial state until his suspension is lifted. Of Guillard’s 32 wins, he possesses 21 knockout victories so there is no doubt he would make a splash in UBBAD with his punching power if this signing proves to be legitimate. But, while this acquisition is a coup for UBBAD, it’s a crying shame Guillard feels the need to compete in the bare-knuckle circuit in the first place.


Check out this related story:

Melvin Guillard Explains the Nuances of the Knockout