On Sunday, March 21 the UFC will make its organizational debut on the Versus network in Broomfield, Colorado with eleven fights intact for the card.
Slated for the event is a compelling matchup in the lightweight division that features Shannon Gugerty (12-4) who fights out of San Diego, California and calls Alliance Training Center home. The lightweight fighter faces the ultra aggressive Clay Guida (25-11) in a pivotal bout for both fighters.
With the event being held at 5,344 feet above sea level, Gugerty set up shop in Big Bear, California with teammate Brandon Vera whom fights on the card’s main event. Big Bear sits some 7,000 feet above sea level and has been home to numerous elite fighters.
In speaking with Bleacher Report, the lightweight fighter feels that the move will give him the edge when it comes fight night.
“Just up here in Big Bear and there’s nothing to do but eat, sleep, and train. Everything’s been awesome, just training hard and staying focused for this camp. It’s been one of my funnest training camps ever for all my fights.”
Fellow Alliance fighter Dominick Cruz, mentioned in a prior interview with Bleacher Report that training in Big Bear is comparable to the lifestyle of Rocky Balboa. Gugerty did not hesitate one bit when asked his thoughts on the subject.
“It’s the truth, you wake up every morning and there’s nothing but snow outside. You realize that you’re up high in the mountains in altitude. Everybody that’s been in the house, they’re all fighting also. It’s helped out a lot because we’re all feeding off each other. Especially, with Dominick winning and we’re all super excited.”
Training at high altitude is no easy task, getting your lungs adjusted to 7,000 feet and the lactic acid that builds into your muscles at that elevation can be terrorizing. However, Gugerty believes that he can feel the difference in a positive way and it is something his opponent won’t have come fight night.
“He comes in with great cardio as it is and I feel that my cardio is always on point also. In all my fights I never get tired but yea it’s that extra step. I’ve never trained in high altitude before and I definitely notice a difference. From the first week we got here until the fifth week right now. You can totally feel the difference and I think it’s going to be a good advantage over him.”
Come fight night, Gugerty will have spent six weeks at 7,000 feet and won’t need to adjust to the difference in air once in Colorado for fight night. In making the move the lightweight believes that he’ll be able to neutralize Guida’s relentless pace.
“I definitely think that he comes in real hard and aggressive and overwhelms his opponents. I think that my skill level is right up there with his, or better on the feet and in jujitsu I know. I’ve brought in Alex Garcia, Efrain Escudero. Jeremy Stephens has helped me out with some good heavy hands in sparring and he’s a good wrestler as well,” Gugerty said.
“They’ve all been trying to be Clay Guida and be cavemen. Switching out all these great wrestlers on me and I’ve been doing really well so I feel like it’s going to be great. That’s the way it’s been, a bunch of savages rotating rounds in on me and that’s how you become you a beast.”
Those savages are not only some of the best fighters in the world but also like family to the lightweight and he feels that’s just another advantage he has in this fight.
“Everyone is equal at our gym, even the guys that have helped out here. Some of them don’t even have fights and they’re just up here to help us out. They’ve been drilling and sparring partners, wrestling, jujitsu, or whatever.
“We probably have a house full of 12 guys and there are maybe five or six of us that are actually fighting. It’s awesome, the vibe is great and that’s what I feel is different from some camps. I think we’re all just a family.”
With his fighting family in mind, Gugerty feels that is just one in many reasons why this camp has been his best.
“Just being focused on fighting and that’s what we do up here. We’re helping each other out with whatever we need. Just feeding off of each other like Dom(Cruz), Brandon(Vera), Joey Beltran, Phil Davis, Alex Garcia, a whole bunch of guys,” Gugerty said.
If we’re not training, we’re all cooking meals together, if we’re not all cooking then we’re watching movies and it’s been a really good aura in this camp. That’s why it’s been the best.”
Even the best camp ever can’t guarantee wins, but Gugerty believes March 21 is going to be the fight that sets him apart and he can't wait.
"I’m excited to showcase my skills because I haven’t really gotten to do that in my last couple of fights. I feel like this fight is going to be one of my breakout fights, absolutely.”