Clay Guida has been lambasted—by the fans, the media and by his own boss—for his performance against Gray Maynard last Friday night at UFC on FX 4.
That's a rare thing. Guida's UFC career has been built and sustained by the fans who love his all-out style. It's that very style that arguably turned him into the most beloved lightweight on the UFC roster.
But it was his decision to abandon that style in favor of a points-based game plan against Maynard that turned the fans against him as the fight evolved on Friday night.
I understand the fan reaction. When Clay goes in the cage, you're expecting an action fight. When something like the Maynard bout happens, it's easy to be disappointed.
Guida doesn't care, though. He went into the cage with a game plan, and he feels like he executed the game plan perfectly:
"I think sometimes judges get the misconception of what mixed martial arts really is," Guida told MMAjunkie.com after the fight. "The guy who gets hit the least usually is the victor. I can't wait to see the FightMetric of strikes that were landed versus strikes that were thrown. (It was) five rounds of fun.
Well, it wasn't five rounds of fun. Not for Maynard and certainly not for the fans. It was difficult to watch, and outside of the final minute or so of the fourth round when Maynard lost his mind and went all Diaz Brothers on Guida, it was incredibly boring.
And there's also the fact that Maynard actually out-struck Guida, landing 52 total strikes to 49 for Guida. Clay threw more punches — 327, to be exact — but throwing punches without landing them doesn't count for much.
Guida went into more detail about his game plan:
"The goombahs in the crowd – the boos motivate me, and I was just getting into my groove," Guida said. "(Should I use) the game plan that they're used to from me, playing Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots and getting my head kicked off or punched in the face? Or stick to a smart strategy and don't be there for big punches? I like my game plan that Greg and Coach (Mike Winkeljohn) and (Israel Martinez) came up with."
There is absolutely nothing wrong with a game plan that involves getting hit in the face as few times as possible. In fact, I think it's a great idea. Lyoto Machida made a career of it, and it worked to perfection for Carlos Condit against Nick Diaz.
But this wasn't proper execution of that style. If you're trying to tire out your opponent in the early rounds so that you can capitalize in the later rounds, you actually have to capitalize in the later rounds. Guida's strategy wasn't a bad one. Attempting to tire Maynard out was actually a pretty genius idea.
But Maynard didn't tire out, and Guida's strategy didn't change. That's the main issue I have with the fight. You can't continue to try and wear down your opponent by running for five rounds, because time will eventually run out without you scoring any kind of major points in the eyes of the judges.
And that's exactly what happened at UFC on FX 4.
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