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Brandon Girtz edges Melvin Guillard by split decision

TEMECULA, California -- A change in scenery did not slow the fall of veteran lightweight Melvin Guillard, as he suffered a split-decision loss to Brandon Girtz in his Bellator MMA debut on Friday. Fighting for his third promotion in the last two years, Guillard (32-15-2) fell to Girtz via official scores of 28-29 and 29-27 (twice). ESPN.com scored the fight for Girtz, 29-27. The lightweight fight headlined Bellator 141 at Pechanga Resort and Casino. Earlier this year, World Series Of Fighting granted Guillard his unconditional release, following a tumultuous two-fight run.

Girtz (13-4), who entered the fight a near 3-to-1 betting underdog, hurt Guillard with a straight left in the opening minute. He went on to badly out-wrestle him in the first and third rounds, although he was badly hurt himself by punches at the end of the fight.

"It didn't go exactly as I thought," Girtz said. "He was a lot tougher than I actually thought he was. I thought once it got past the first round I'd be able to break him but he's a tough kid."

After a miserable first round, Guillard bounced back somewhat in the second. With his left eye half closed due to the elbows he'd eaten on the ground, Guillard worked back to his feet from a takedown after Girtz was overaggressive with an armbar attempt and started to clip his opponent with the right hand.

In the third, Girtz returned to the takedown and put Guillard on his back in the opening 20 seconds. With 90 seconds left in the fight, referee John McCarthy stood Girtz up from top position after a period of inactivity. Guillard tried to take advantage, blitzing Girtz immediately on the restart and hurting him with knees to the head. He grew too wild though, and Girtz took him down again to end the threat.

Guillard, who was released by the UFC in 2014 following a loss to Michael Johnson, drops to 1-3 in his last four fights.

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