On Saturday night, Clay Guida executed his game plan to perfection, took down a superior striker in Anthony Pettis and held him off long enough to win a decision.
Some fans called it lay and pray and said it made a promising fight extremely boring.
Others said it was the perfect way to shut down a fighter like Pettis, and that the constant submission attempts from Pettis on the bottom made it impossible for Guida to try and mount any offense of his own.
Obviously, there are two sides to every argument, but the one thing that tonight showed us is that Guida has become a serious contender for UFC gold.
Dana White has constantly told us that styles make fights, and if we believe him, then you have to believe that Guida’s style makes him a tough matchup for anyone in the division.
The dream skill set for Guida, a wrestler who likes to grind out opponents, comes down to three things.
- Relentless pressure and cardio.
- The ability to stifle submissions from the fighter on bottom.
- An iron chin to prevent you from getting caught on the way in for a takedown.
Guida exhibited once again that he has the best cardio in the sport, going full speed at Pettis for 15 minutes and showing his submission defense has improved dramatically since joining Greg Jackson’s camp in late 2009.
On top of that, Guida’s chin has never come into question as he has never been knocked out in 40 career bouts and has very rarely been rocked. His insane recovery after being kicked in the face by Diego Sanchez comes to mind when you think about how awesome his chin is.
The bottom line is that while Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard are both wrestlers who sit at the top of the division, Guida is a real threat to whichever one of them wins their title fight later this year.
Edgar was able to stuff a few of Maynard’s takedowns back at UFC 125, but he lost his only fight to Maynard back in 2008 by being held on his back for three rounds.
You have to wonder if Guida’s relentless pressure would eventually get to him in a five-round title fight, as it is unlikely that Edgar could finish Clay.
On the other side, Maynard has one of the best wrestling pedigrees in the sport but he showed that his cardio is a bit lacking when he tired out against Edgar back on New Year's Day.
If Guida was able to avoid the big shot and put the pressure on Maynard for the first couple rounds, he could possibly steal a decision in the later rounds.
A few years ago, it would have been laughable to even suggest that Guida would even be able to get a title shot in the UFC, never mind actually wear the belt.
But it seems like Greg Jackson has turned Guida into a focused, energy driven machine, and it is quite possible that the TUF 13 finale was the beginning of the ‘Era of the Carpenter.’