(Photo via, you guessed it, Heavy.com)
By Elias Cepeda
Whether or not he’ll admit it, Clay Guida hates being an underdog. It isn’t that the featherweight doesn’t enjoy proving people wrong – he does.
It’s the underestimation that bothers him. Most of his UFC wins have come over opponents who were favored over him before he broke them down and beat them. Even before his UFC career began back in 2006, Guida’s opponents were regularly favored over him.
The assumption that he is an “over-achiever” that has to defy our low expectations just to win smacks Guida like a backhanded compliment time and time again. He’s too polite to get visibly angry when the term has been brought up but in the past, but he’s made it clear to this writer that he doesn’t think of himself in that way. After about a decade of “over-achieving,” Clay would prefer if we simply started referring to him as the elite MMA fighter he truly is. On Saturday, Guida will once again be considered the underdog when he fights former featherweight title challenger Chad Mendes.
Like Guida, Mendes is a wrestler, but he is a more decorated amateur one. Like Guida, Mendes is happy to go wild and throw strikes on the feet, but the Californian has been putting people out with his shots. Both men are obviously in the same weight class, but Mendes would appear to be the more physically imposing, stronger fighter.
Mendes’ only career loss was a shocking one to division champion Jose Aldo. Since that fight, Mendes has won three straight fights by knockout. At some point, in some way, every successful fighter must be a giant in his or her own mind. And in his mind, Guida is the clear favorite in his UFC 164 match up with Mendes.
“Chad is a great wrestler,” Clay admits to me one afternoon a month ago from his New Mexico training camp.
“But we are going to show him what Midwest wrestling is all about. It is a whole different beast. It is just scraping, driving non-stop, relentless and winning scrambles.”