UFC Fight Night 39: Clay Guida vs. Tatsuya Kawajiri Head-to-Toe Breakdown
Now in their 30s, Clay Guida and Tatsuya Kawajiri don't have time for many more setbacks. So, their meeting at UFC Fight Night 39 will be pivotal for their chances to win UFC gold.
Guida most recently ran into No. 1 featherweight contender Chad Mendes. The matchup resulted in Guida's first ever knockout loss. While the bout showed "The Carpenter" has some improvements to make before he can be considered a serious featherweight title threat, only 145-pound champ Jose Aldo has found a way to beat Mendes.
Kawajiri, meanwhile, recently made his highly anticipated UFC debut against Sean Soriano. While Kawajiri was able to stop Soriano with a rear-naked choke in the second round, he'll be taking a significant step up in competition for Friday's meeting with Guida.
Which fighter will take an important step toward a shot at the featherweight championship? Here is a closer look at how Guida and Kawajiri match up against one another in all areas.
Constantly moving, Clay Guida makes it appear as though he is more active with his striking than he is in reality. While his head movement can be difficult for opponents to deal with, Guida doesn't usually pose a huge threat offensively when standing.
In 41 career fights, Guida has only recorded four knockout victories. Only one of those wins came inside the Octagon during an April 2008 bout with Samy Schiavo.
Tatsuya Kawajiri does most of his damage from the top position, but he does have the power to hurt Guida should he land on the button. Even if he isn't able to rock Guida, Kawajiri should throw and land more strikes than the deceptively inactive Guida, who hasn't landed more than 50 significant strikes in any of his UFC appearances.
There is a good possibility this matchup will be decided by wrestling.
Clay Guida's past four losses have come in fights where he was unable to score more takedowns than his adversaries. At the same time, only elite lightweights and featherweights have been able to shut down Guida's takedowns.
Since losing to Gilbert Melendez, Tatsuya Kawajiri has scored 14 takedowns without surrendering any in six outings. However, Michihiro Omigawa was probably the most proven opponent he met during that span of fights.
Both fighters are very good in the wrestling department and should be evenly matched at UFC Fight Night 39. However, Guida has gotten it done against notable competition more recently than Kawajiri.
Clay Guida and Tatsuya Kawajiri are both solid defensively on the ground.
"The Carpenter" hasn't been submitted since a 2009 bout with Kenny Florian, and "The Crusher" hasn't tapped since a 2010 matchup with submission artist Shinya Aoki.
With both fighters being such strong positional grapplers, the fighter who gains the top position should be able to keep it without getting caught in any submission.
Tatsuya Kawajiri has remained more active than Clay Guida recently, competing at UFC Fight Night 34 in January. Guida, on the other hand, last appeared at UFC 164 seven months ago.
That said, Guida's experience inside the Octagon should weigh more heavily than a break between fights that lasted slightly longer than usual for him. Kawajiri has competed in many high-level promotions, but this will be one of the most important fights of his career.
Along with his experience, Guida's conditioning is also a big factor in all his fights. In a matchup that is likely to go the distance, Guida should be able to thrive in the later rounds.
This one could really go either way. With the stakes being high for both fighters, that is what makes this a worthy and intriguing co-main attraction.
In the end, this fight will be won with takedowns. While Tatsuya Kawajiri is strong in that area, Clay Guida is equally tough and should come in with a solid game plan under the guidance of Greg Jackson.
Guida has more to lose in this matchup, but he should be able to get his hand raised with top control and conditioning.
Guida defeats Kawajiri by decision.