(How far can the amped-up UFC star take his current hot-streak? Photo via Heavy)
By Elias Cepeda
If you were Clay Guida, you might be a little pissed off right now. In June, Guida was matched up with then-#1 UFC lightweight title contender and reigning WEC champion Anthony Pettis. Despite beating Pettis and picking up his fourth consecutive UFC victory, the Carpenter didn’t earn a title shot. Instead, he wound up with a bout against the man Pettis beat for the WEC belt, Ben Henderson.
Guida vs. Henderson was booked for a spot on the historic November 12th card that would be televised on FOX, promising a tremendous amount of exposure. Then, Guida learned that FOX would only be televising the card’s main event — Cain Velasquez vs. Junior Dos Santos for the heavyweight belt. And now, UFC President Dana White has not even guaranteed that the winner of Henderson (who last defeated Jim Miller) vs. Guida will be the next challenger for lightweight champ Frankie Edgar.
The past year appeared to be an emotional roller coaster for Guida, one perhaps capable of distracting him from his tasks at hand. Or…not.
“That stuff doesn’t bother me for a second,” Guida says. “Emotional roller coasters are for little girls playing soccer. If anything, those things just help me focus more.”
We should have known better. This is, after all, a fighter who once told me that he felt it was ridiculous for a professional fighter to ever get tired and that if he or she did, they should find a new career. Guida just isn’t very good at making excuses. As such, he’s not complaining about having to fight such a tough opponent after beating the #1 contender, or not even being guaranteed a title fight if he beats Henderson.
That’s not to say Guida doesn’t feel he is the rightful #1 contender to the UFC lightweight crown. He just doesn’t mind proving it over and over again. “We’ve been around [in the UFC] for five years and have never been in a rush to get a title shot, so we’re not starting now,” Guida says.
“We are just going to follow our gameplan and keep exploiting our opponents’ weaknesses. Hopefully a big win against Henderson will put an exclamation point on me being the legit, number one contender and show Joe Silva, Dana White, and the Fertita brothers. They’ve seen great performances from me but they’ve also seen me fall short a couple times,” he continues.
As for his television exposure, Guida’s bout will be broadcast on Facebook and on FOX Deportes, and he’s predictably positive about the whole thing: “You know what, if it is a good enough fight people will watch it anyway. They will show it in the future on re-runs and if I fight well I can get the big shot at the lightweight title. Things happen for a reason,” he says.
“The dedicated fans will watch it and hopefully they will bring along some of their friends who are newer to the sport.”
At the moment, Guida is heading to Anaheim from his New Mexico training camp at Jackson and Winklejohn’s MMA. He says he got his RV (the same one he drives to Lebowski fests and jam band concerts around the country) to New Mexico for camp two days after Labor Day, but that this camp “feels quicker than any other before.”
Guida seems to feel that Henderson is a better fighter than Pettis – “That wasn’t the best Henderson out there against Pettis,” he believes – but that “Showtime” had a good game-plan to beat “Bendo”, and that he just might follow it in principle.
“Pettis stayed in Henderson’s face and kept him guessing. It would be smart to follow suit,” Guida says.
As usual, Guida isn’t favored by most to win his next fight, but he’s fine doing what he does best once again. “It’s time to go out there and prove the critics wrong.”