By CagePotato Special Contributor Brian Knapp
Clay Guida had Roger Huerta reeling. Up two rounds to none in their main event showdown at the Ultimate Fighter 6 live finale in December, Guida could have taken his foot off the gas and coasted to a decision victory. No one would have blamed him. Instead, he hit the throttle.
Early in round three, Huerta rocked a shooting Guida with a jarring left knee, and the pendulum swung in his favor. Huerta took his dazed opponent’s back soon after and secured a rear-naked choke for the tapout. Their memorable bout — a strong candidate for best fight of the year — ended 10:31 after it began. Huerta was reduced to tears afterwards. Guida went back to the drawing board.
“It was an honor to be a part of that fight; Roger’s a warrior,” Guida says. “I think he and I are very similar. He fights with a lot of heart and passion, and people know when they come to watch us, they’re not going to see a lackluster fight.”
As has been his custom, Guida made certain he had nothing left to give inside the cage. The free-spirited Chicagoan vows to learn from the mistakes he made.
“I was up 2-0 and got clipped,” he says. “I learned from every exchange, from every opportunity I missed. It’s not always about the outcome. I missed six or seven chances to end that fight.”
Guida returns to the Octagon on Wednesday, when he meets French UFC newcomer Samy Schiavo at Ultimate Fight Night 13 at the Broomfield Event Center in Broomfield, Colo. The lightweight tilt will take place on the preliminary portion of the 12-fight card, which airs on Spike TV (7pm ET/PT) and leads into the season premiere of The Ultimate Fighter 7.
“I want to start off the year right with a decisive victory,” Guida says. “He’s coming into my cage, and I’m going to send him back to the doghouse. We’ll see how I bounce back. We’ll see on Wednesday what I learned from my fight with Roger.”
Rooted in the French Top Team, the 32-year-old Schiavo (10-4) enters the bout on a six-fight winning streak. A black belt in Tae Kwon Do, the former Cage Wars lightweight champion last competed in September, when he submitted Paul Jenkins with an arm triangle choke at a Cage Rage Contenders show in Dublin, Ireland. Nine of his 10 career wins have come via knockout, technical knockout or submission.
Guida (22-9-1, 2-3 UFC) expects no pushover.
“I only know what I’ve seen [on video], but he’s a very aggressive striker,” Guida says. “He keeps a high pace, which I like, and he’s very strong and stocky.”
Guida lost three of his four fights in 2007 but built a loyal following in the process. His relentlessness, aggression and energetic spirit won over the masses. And few could match his level of competition, as he tested himself against Huerta, rising contender Tyson Griffin and American Top Team’s Din Thomas and Urijah Faber, UFC heavyweight contender Brandon Vera and Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace Dean Lister.
“Training’s going great,” Guida says. “This is the best camp I’ve had since I started training. My cardio and wrestling are always good, and my stand-up’s always improving. I feel very confident.”
Guida — who wrestled as a collegian at Harper Junior College in Palatine, Ill. — has delivered half of his 22 career wins by submission. Notable victories against Strikeforce lightweight contender Josh Thomson, International Fight League standout Bart Palaszewski and Aurelio highlight his resume. Not bad for a guy who tried the sport on a whim at a Silverback Classic show in 2003.
“I was watching my brother,” Guida says. “It was kind of by accident. He asked me if I wanted to fight, and I came out, got choked by a guy and never looked back. I had the itch from college wrestling, and I wanted to do something else besides frame houses.”
Guida started to see mixed martial arts as a potential career avenue in May 2004, when he won a four-man Xtreme Kage Kombat tournament with wins against Chris Mickle and Alonzo Martinez. Those two victories came as part of a 15-fight winning streak that plugged Guida into the sport.
“I fought on two days notice,” he says. “I fought the hometown guy and was getting my butt kicked by Alonzo Martinez. In the third round, I had him hurt and gassed, and I cracked him, slammed him and choked him out. I knew then it was what I wanted to do.”