Melvin Guillard is accused of overconfidence like Georges St-Pierre is of playing it safe.
Neither have much say in the matter. Guilty or not, these are traits now woven into their fighting characters. It's nearly impossible to shake them before the MMA public.
Rebounding from one of the biggest setbacks of his professional career, a fired-up Guillard (29-9-2 MMA, 10-5 UFC) said he's putting his head down and moving past judgements as he approaches a fight with Jim Miller (20-3 MMA, 9-2 UFC) at UFC on FX 1.
"I'm not going to sit here and guarantee myself a win," he told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio). "I have to go in there and work, and I have to go get it."
Guillard vs. Miller headlines UFC on FX 1, which takes place Jan. 20 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn. Main-card action airs live on FX while preliminary-card fights air on FUEL TV.
Most who've followed him would accuse Guillard of expecting a silver platter. When he fought Joe Lauzon at UFC 136, his supreme confidence and bouncy energy were interpreted as a massive underestimation of the heavy underdog.
And when Lauzon submitted him in 47 seconds, it looked like a good call. As with Joe Stevenson or Nate Diaz earlier in his career, Guillard had squandered an impressive win streak by coming in a little too loose.
"I didn't overlook Lauzon," Guillard defended. "I asked to fight Lauzon because I wanted a tough fight, and I said that in my interviews. I think Lauzon is a top contender. I still think he is. Yeah, I think the fight was a fluke, and I made a mistake, and he beat me. But I think Lauzon is a very competitive guy."
You won't get Guillard to cop to whether the mistake – like so many seen over the years – is the result of a tragic flaw in his makeup that prompts him to drop his guard when things are going well. Or, in other words, at the worst possible moment.
You might, however, get him to admit that he's not the master of his own destiny – that whatever happens in the cage is, well, going to happen.
Guillard has been very self-assured in the past. But now, it seems he's mellowed to the point where he acknowledges there are extenuating circumstances out of his control – and that there's little he can do but go in, go hard, and hope to come out on top of things.
"Me and Jim Miller, we're the main event because we're two guys that are going to bring it, and we're at the top of the heap in our division," Guillard said. "Our fighting is the reason we're there – not because of the popularity we get from the fans or from the UFC. We just fought hard enough to put ourselves in that position."
Pushing hard has led "The Young Assassin" away from Albuquerque, N.M., where he trained with renowned coaches Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn. Despite their sterling reputations, Guillard felt he wasn't getting enough attention to forward his development, and he felt that the sparring wasn't live enough.
Guillard now trains at Imperial Athletics in Boca Raton, Fla., where he said they spar closer to the feel of a real fight. Former Bellator lightweight champ Eddie Alvarez has stopped by, as have a bevy of wrestling specialists to imitate Miller.
Meanwhile, he ignores critics who say he's cocky and doesn't deserve a title shot.
"Am I expecting a title shot after the Jim Miller fight? No, I'm not," Guillard said. "I'm expecting to fight at least one or two more fights because I did lose. That's how I feel as a person. If I take a loss, I set myself back. I'd need to go back a few fights and grind it out a little bit harder.
"When I do fight for the title, I want the fans to say I earned it. Melvin didn't just get a phone call and randomly get selected to fight for a title – because that happens to some guys ... and they get in there in a title fight, and they look like a deer in the headlights.
"I want to fight these tough fights before I fight for the title because when I fight for the title, I want to be successful, and I want to win."
And even though he doesn't expect a title shot, Guillard feels he and Miller can't be far off from one. Extenuating circumstances have kept them from the belt, but they may not for long.
"When you look at two fighters of our caliber in our division, man, look around our division," Guillard said. "Who else can beat me and Jim Miller? Yeah, Joe Lauzon beat me, but honestly, I didn't even get my feet going; I didn't get comfortable in the fight. I don't take nothing from Joe. He won fair and square. Jim Miller, when he fought Ben Henderson, he was sick. He was suffering with flu or something like that. You don't know what happens to people when they fight. That's why you can't relate anything to the past fight because every fight is different."
And the thing is, Guillard impresses so much when he's on that he makes fans forget he was ever off.
Can he remain that way against Miller?
"The dude has good killer instinct, and me going into this fight with Jim, I feel it's a mirror match," Guillard said. "It's really going to be based off of who makes the mistake first because we've both got killer instinct."