After 9 years and 42 career fights as a Lightweight, former inaugural Strikeforce Lightweight champion and longtime UFC contender Clay “The Carpenter” Guida announced via his Twitter feed that he intends on competing at Featherweight for the first time in his next bout. A perennial contender in the UFC Lightweight division and a fan favorite for years, Guida has competed against some of the biggest names in the division like former title challengers Diego Sanchez, Kenny Florian, and Gray Maynard, defeated former division champions Takanori Gomi and Anthony Pettis, and fought now champion Benson Henderson before he captured the UFC title.
Starting his career in July 2003 with only an amateur wrestling background, Clay Guida went 18-4 in less than three years with 15 of those wins coming by way of stoppage. Making his debut for Strikeforce in March 2006 against UFC veteran Josh Thomson, the two fought for the promotion’s inaugural Lightweight championship where Guida won via Unanimous Decision. Next defending his Strikeforce title, Guida would lose via Split Decision to fellow rising competitor Gilbert Melendez in what was also his last bout with the promotion. After going 1-1 in his next two bouts losing via Submission and winning via Unanimous Decision, he was signed to the UFC where he was competed since October 2006.
Starting his UFC career with a 2-3 record in just 14 months with the promotion, Guida had entertaining performances even in defeat as he took home Fight of the Night honors against fellow perennial contender Tyson Griffin and against Roger Huerta which also earned Fight of the Year honors for 2007. Bouncing back from a disappointing record for his first five bouts with the promotion, he racked up three straight wins with a Rnd1 TKO over Samy Schiavo, a Unanimous Decision over TUF6 winner Mac Danzig, and a Split Decision over TUF5 winner Nate Diaz that also earned Fight of the Night Honors. After racking up an impressive win streak Guida would end up on a two fight losing streak, first losing a close Split Decision to TUF1 winner Diego Sanchez in a Fight of the Night performance that also earned Fight of the Year honors for 2009, and next losing to 2x title challenger and TUF1 runner-up Kenny Florian via Rnd2 Submission.
After suffering a 2 fight losing streak at the hands of two of the division’s top contenders, Guida returned in spectacular form next racking up four straight wins that had him knocking on the door for a shot at the division title. Starting off his win streak Guida earned a Rnd2 Submission finish over Shannon Gugerty that took home Submission of the Night honors, earning a second stoppage victory with a Rnd3 Submission over fellow veteran Rafael dos Anjos, and earning a third straight stoppage victory with a Rnd2 Submission over former PrideFC division champion Takanori Gomi in what also earned Submission of the Night honors. Going into his next bout against final WEC division champion Anthony Pettis fans expected to see another Fight of the Night performance, but were disappointed when Guida utilized a strategy of wrestling only, which contributed to the criticism of coach Greg Jackson for the lackluster strategies some of his high profile fighters had been utilizing. With a good win streak in hand Guida next took on former WEC division champion Benson Henderson in the co-main event of UFC On FOX 1 for the #1 contendership position in the weight class. Breaking away from the mold of lackluster strategies that had appeared out of coach Greg Jackson’s camp, Guida put on a performance that excited the fans in an enduring fight against Henderson, but still came up short as he lost his chance at the title being on the losing end of a Unanimous Decision. Hoping to bounce back into another chance for #1 contendership Guida next took on 2x title challenger Gray Maynard in the headlining bout for UFC On FX 4. In a bout where Guida’s elusiveness was expected to be a key point in his strategy to earn him the victory, that one attribute in his game instead led to one of his most criticized performances in his UFC career. Clearly the strategy involved avoiding Maynard’s power and takedown attempts, but really appeared as if Guida was avoiding any kind of action altogether as he constantly moved around the octagon at times never throwing a strike or engaging, which made Maynard appear as the primary aggressor. There were even times when Maynard had to chase and run at Guida in an attempt at any kind of engagement. In a performance that garnered wide criticism from fighters, fans, and including UFC President Dana White, Guida did not impress all judges as he lost via Split Decision.
Being out-powered by stronger opponents and failing to reach the top of the division losing to the elite of the weight class, Guida has now decided to make the move down in weight. Guida had mentioned in an interview one that a move down to Featherweight was considerable after the weight class was introduced to the UFC following the absorption of the WEC, but stated that he had intended to remain at Lightweight. Now moving down to compete at Featherweight he will join recently dethroned Lightweight champion Frankie Edgar, Cole Miller, Nik Lentz, Denis Siver, and Charles Oliveira as former Lightweights that have also made the move down in weight this year. Recognized as one of the most agile competitors previously in the Lightweight division, Guida may still hold a speed advantage over some Featherweights. His elusive style and footwork is a considerable challenge even for some of the top ranked competitors in the weight class and his time competing against previously bigger opponents proves he may hold a strength advantage as well. Guida expects to make his Featherweight debut sometime in the first quarter of 2013. Though competing at an elite level in the Lightweight division, Guida may be matched against an opponent who has not yet broken out in the ranks. As for who could be his first opponent to welcome him to the weight class, there has been no opponent named at this time.
Written by @MMAFanHQ