(We know, Clay, we had a hard time watching your last fight too.)
It’s looking like the crippling power of this year’s injury curse is going to be tested early come 2013, because the UFC’s first major network event of the year is currently stacked with more budding talent than a Miss Teen USA pageant. Aside from the Cerrone/Pettis, Jackson/Teixeira, and Dodson/Johnson fights that were announced earlier this week, the UFC has recently announced that Clay Guida will be making his featherweight debut against Hatsu Hioki at the same event as well.
Guida’s last performance saw him channel Steve Prefontaine for the majority of five rounds against Gray Maynard at UFC on FX 4, earning him his second straight loss at lightweight following his much more exciting loss to current champion Benson Henderson at the inaugural UFC on FOX event.
Despite the fact that he is coming off a close decision loss to Ricardo Lamas at the same event, there’s no denying that Hioki is still considered to be one of the top contenders at 145, so a win over Hatsu is not only essential for Guida — he has never dropped three straight in his MMA career — but would easily launch him up the list of potential contenders to boot. Let’s just hope he brings a more aggressive strategy against Hioki or we could be in for a long three rounds.
Elsewhere on the card…
A matchup between surging lightweights T.J. Grant and Matt Wiman is also in the works for the UFC’s return to Fox. Despite fighting in the UFC for over three years, one could argue that Grant finally had his coming out party in his last fight against Evan Dunham at UFC 152. The submission specialist actually managed to outstrike the striker for the majority of the fight, mutilating Dunham’s face worse than Mark Dacascos does a Japanese accent en route to a unanimous decision victory. It was Grant’s third straight victory since dropping to lightweight and sixth overall under the Zuffa banner. Wiman is also coming off the biggest win of his career, having submitted undefeated submission whiz Paul Sass via first round armbar at UFC on FUEL 5 in his last octagon appearance. The TUF 5 alum has now won 5 of his last 6 fights.
And finally, the featherweight pairing of two top contenders in Erik Koch and Ricardo Lamas — which was originally reported to be transpiring at UFC 155 — has also been added to the January 26th Fox card. No word yet on whether or not the UFC will bring the winner of the Guida/Hikoi fight into the octagon afterward to engage in a good old fashioned staged confrontation, but we’ll keep our fingers crossed.
Now here’s a cat attacking a small child. Good day.