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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Rival louisiana fighters take UFC stage next week

Mixed-martial arts in Louisiana takes center stage next Saturday in Las Vegas as Melvin Guillard and Rich Clementi will try to settle their differences during the main card of the aptly-named UFC 79: Nemesis. Unless they kill each other first.

Guillard (from Kenner) and Clementi (Slidell) used to train with each other. Guillard, 24, even looked up to Clementi, 31, at one point.

The “bayou beatdown” could be the wild-card in one of the UFC’s most-anticipated shows. The lightweight bout (155 pounds) will accompany fights that feature superstars Chuck Liddell, Matt Hughes and Georges St. Pierre. The intense feud could make for an historic night for MMA in Louisiana.

Monday, The Times, will run a preview of the fight. Here are some tidbits to look forward to:

“As a person and as a fighter, I really don’t care much for (Clementi) at all,” said Guillard, a former all-district football player and state champion wrestler at Bonnabel High School in Kenner, just west of New Orleans.

“I couldn’t feel any luckier to fight him on a big UFC show,” said Clementi, who trains and promotes MMA fights out of Slidell, La., just east of New Orleans. “I don’t feel the same way for him. I feel bad for him.”

“The beauty of fights like this is I love when guys talk all that (stuff),” White told The Times. “‘This guy’s the best, that guy’s the best.’ We’re going to find out in a few days.
“(Melvin) talks a lot of smack. It’s going to be a good fight. Melvin is in a position now where he really needs to win this.”

WHITE ON GUILLARD'S TROUBLES: “Melvin wants all the fame and status immediately,” White said. “This kid gets bounced off the show and he was out partying like a rock star like the thing was already on television -- acting like he was Mike Tyson or something.
“Melvin gets caught up in both. He’s not afraid to fight anybody. He has all the skill and talent. The kid was flat broke when he came on the show. The next time I see him for the (TUF) Finale, he shows up with a diamond cross and all this bling already. I was like ‘O, Jesus. Here we go.’
“He has so much talent he doesn’t have to try as hard as everybody else does. A lot of those guys end up wasting talent.”

CLEMENTI ON SCUFFLE IN HOUMA: “He walked up to me and I stuck out my hand out to shake his and he sucker punched me. I saw him later in Vegas and he apologized, but I said, ‘This will be settled when it’s settled my way.’ I was really pushing this fight to happen.”

GUILLARD ON FIGHT: “He feels I’m the same fighter I was four years ago. He doesn’t understand I’ve grown into a young man and now I’m a man fighting a man’s game. He still thinks I’m a kid fighting a man’s game.”

Check back Monday for the complete story


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