The fight was terrible. Guida executed a strategy that not only cost him a fight, but also cost him many fans in the process.
We've heard it all.
But we haven't heard much from Jackson, who was quickly and wrongly derided by fans for creating nothing but safe fighters and boring game plans.
That couldn't be further from the truth, and it's interesting that the fans making that claim willingly overlook Cub Swanson's knockout-of-the-night-winning performance from earlier in the night. They're also overlooking a history of exciting performances from Jackson-coached guys like Jon Jones and Brian Stann.
Jackson was asked his thoughts on the hatred being directed at Guida after the fight, and he attempted to explain his fighter's mindset going into the bout to Sherdog.com:
In a lot of those fun, exciting fights, he ended up on the wrong side of those. He would get dropped or he’d get choked out a lot of times. You have to be able to fight the guy that’s in front of you, and Gray is an incredible fighter. … To just run at that guy and throw caution to the wind and hope you don’t get caught with a big punch and choked out again, it is a little silly. You do want to be able to try to do something that maybe favors you a little bit.
Now again, we should have engaged a little bit more, and that’s just the way the fight went down, but I’m never going to tell my guy, ‘Listen, this guy does everything better than you. I just want you to take all the damage you can until he gets tired of punching you in the face so that everybody’s jumping up and down and then maybe you’ll win, but maybe you’ll just get choked out.’ That doesn’t seem very smart to me at all. … I’m always going to be trying to do it smartly. It’s got to be an entertaining fight obviously, but at the same time you can’t just jump on somebody that’s stronger than you, that hits harder than you and has better wrestling than you do.
Jackson is right. Guida's penchant for exciting, crowd-pleasing fights has cost him in the past.
But there's one thing Jackson is overlooking. Being the kind of fighter who sends the crowd into raptures while occasionally losing can actually help your career far more than being a boring fighter that consistently wins.
Look at Jon Fitch. He's an excellent fighter and has often been considered one of the best welterweights in the world. But he also has a nasty habit for putting on slow, grinding fights. He was given a world-title shot only because he'd put together a winning streak so vast that he couldn't be denied.
And then, once he lost to Georges St-Pierre, he was sent to the back of the line. Fitch will have an incredibly difficult time ever getting another title shot unless he puts together a massive winning streak, and it's all due to his style.
Conversely, take a look at Dan Hardy. The guy lost four fights in a row and still wasn't cut from the roster. Why? Because he puts on exciting fights every time he goes in the cage, the Anthony Johnson bout notwithstanding.
Chan Sung Jung is another example. He lost his final two fights in the WEC, but after stringing together three consecutive wins in the UFC, he's being seriously considered for a title shot, and it's all due to his exciting style.
This sport is about winning fights, yes. That should be the goal of every fighter who goes in the cage.
But it's also about entertaining the fans, about giving them something to remember you by and making them want to tune in when you fight. When you do that, you help the UFC's bottom line. And when you help the UFC's bottom line, the UFC helps you by giving you a ton of exposure and pushing your career to new heights.
There's a fine balance to be struck here, and it's not an easy thing to juggle.
Guida can't go into the cage and lose fights because he's trying to be—above all else—an entertaining fighter. But he also can't utilize the kind of game plans he executed in the Maynard bout and expect to receive the same kind of support from the UFC that he's enjoyed in the past.