Last night couldn't come fast enough for me. I was salivating at the chance to watch Anthony Pettis and Clay Guida mix it up at The Ultimate Fighter Finale 13. Everything was pointing towards the direction of not only a Fight of the Night bonus, but a possible Fight of the Year award as well.
Pettis has shown time and time again that he has a penchant for pulling off exciting and surprising moves that leave people shaking their heads in amazement. From his head kick knockout of Danny Castillo, to his outwrestling Shane Roller at WEC 50, Pettis leaves no stones unturned when looking for ways to win.
He is as active a fighter as there is, and now that he was going to face off with the original Energizer Bunny of mixed martial arts Clay Guida, we thought these two were going to go nonstop for 15 minutes and leave the fans screaming in favor of five round nontitle fights.
Ever since fans got their first glimpse of Guida, they recognized his heart and his insatiable desire to compete. This is a man who could probably run a marathon after just finishing a grueling war inside the cage. Even with all of his desire and energy, Guida was still lacking an ability to finish his opponents; he would get them down and seemingly lie on top of them.
Some started calling him Lay Guida because of his lie-n-pray style. Don't get me wrong. I am not someone who constantly complains when another fighter continuously takes his opponent down and inflicts little to no damage. As long as he is trying to land or improve his position, then it's up to the fighter on the bottom to get back up.
Guida seemed as though he was trying his hardest to hurt his opponent or get into a better position instead of lying inside of their guard, but he wasn't all that successful. Don't get me wrong. He was giving it his all, and he wanted to do more—that can never be called into question.
Guida had his share of spectacular moments, such as his fights of the year with Tyson Griffin and Diego Sanchez, but it is my belief it was due more to the pressure put on by his opponents than it was his willingness to stand and trade with them. In his fight with Sanchez, he took a beating and even when he took Sanchez down, he did virtually nothing. In fact, Sanchez was far more active from the bottom than Guida was from the top.
Then Guida started training with Greg Jackson, and it was a like a light bulb went off in his head. He became more aggressive and in turn much more appealing. He won three straight fights all by stoppage against Shannon Gugerty, Rafael Dos Anjos and Takanori Gomi. Against Gomi, he looked like a true title contender. He was fighting to win instead of fighting not to lose.
Those fights combined with the excitement that Pettis brings to the cage each and every time out were reasons enough for fans to expect a war last night. Instead, we were treated to Guida reverting back to his pre-Jackson days, and doing what he had to do not to lose.
Even though he spent most of the fight on top of Pettis, it was Showtime who was looking for ways to finish the fight and land strikes from his back. He was far more active and was constantly looking for armbars and triangle chokes. One thing I do have to say about Guida is he showed excellent submission defense last night.
No one wants a champion who is going to fight the way Guida did last night. We are not asking these guys to risk losing every time out just to make us happy, but there has to be a happy medium. Fans felt Frankie Edgar was too boring until he showed his first victory over BJ Penn wasn't a fluke, and then followed that up with a fantastic fight against Gray Maynard.
If I'm Dana White, my worst nightmare would be a UFC Lightweight Title bout with Guida and Maynard as the two participants. Both men have a history of smothering their opponents without doing much to finish them off. Maynard seemed to really open up against Edgar at UFC 125, but it's still to be determined whether or not that was sign of things to come or just an aberration.
Guida is everything a champion is not. He is not very easy on the eyes. In fact, he looks like a caveman. His hair is unkempt and all over the place. He rambles on and on during his interviews making very little sense and has no problem belching or blowing his nose in front of the cameras. Not everyone has to be dapper like GSP, but a champion is expected to carry himself in a certain manner.
Is Guida the type of fighter White and Lorenzo Fertitta want leading the charge for one of their most exciting divisions? Is he the guy they want to send out on press junkets promoting the sport and trying to attract new fans? Absolutely not, which is why there will be plenty of sleepless nights for UFC management if Clay Guida ever becomes the UFC Lightweight Champion.