On the night of May 29, 2022, Cage Fury Fighting Championship Vice President Brad Boulton went to bed preparing to be a mere spectator at the upcoming Fury Pro Grappling 4 event, and by the night of May 30, Boulton was licking his wounds following a grueling eight-minute grappling match with UFC Hall of Famer Clay Guida.
It was originally slated to be UFC veteran Alex Caceres taking on Guida in the card’s co-main event, but Caceres was forced to pull out of the match the morning of, leaving matchmakers scrambling to find an alternative. After exhausting the few possible replacement options available, CFFC brass ultimately turned to one of their own in a Hail Mary to save the night’s co-main event.
In a 24-hour whirlwind of events, Brad Boulton had the opportunity to make the transformation from boardroom executive to card-saving competitor, and he accepted with no questions asked.
“Most people don’t get a phone call saying, ‘You got a shot to grapple a UFC Hall of Famer this weekend, do you want it or not?’” Boulton said. “Regardless of what kind of shape I’m in, I’m going to say ‘yes.’ It wasn’t even like I was playing coy; it was just if that spot’s open, I will do it with zero hesitation.”
Despite the last-minute nature of the bout, Boulton isn’t just some scrub pulled off the street tasked with the herculean effort that is grappling Clay Guida. He’s a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt with extensive competition experience, so he wasn’t completely thrusted into a David vs. Goliath situation.
“There were summers during the Jiu Jitsu competition season where I was competing every weekend,” Boulton said.
“So blue through brown belt I was competing a lot, but not so much at black belt. But growing up from pretty much when I was a teenager to when I started full-time was a lot of competition.” Boulton added.
Boulton’s slick Jiu Jitsu skills were immediately on display in the opening moments of the match, as he nearly caught Guida in a triangle under 30 seconds into the bout.
“It was a huge confidence builder for me, and I think in return from that I also got some respect from him.” Boulton revealed. “It made him realize that this isn’t going to be a cakewalk match, you better watch your step because if you mess up, I’m going to get you.”
Guida was eventually able to get past the guard of Boulton and lock in a head-and-arm choke in the final minute of the match, but not before using a unique rule to his advantage. Before accepting the bout, Guida and Boulton agreed that no leg locks of any kind would be allowed in the contest, and Guida was able to capitalize on this stipulation.
“These special rules ended up ultimately being my downfall because in that 50/50 leg lock position I let his ankle go and that’s when he got the pass.” Boulton said. “In hindsight, I kind of wish I did a little negotiating, so notes for the future.”
Leg locks aside, a full-time Cage Fury executive lasting nearly eight minutes with a UFC Hall of Famer on less than a day’s notice is a celebratory achievement in itself. Boulton claims to have only trained a handful of times since his native gym shut down during the pandemic, and attributes the lack of conditioning to be a primary factor in the outcome of the match.
“To me, it was more of a loss due to physical strength than it was to skills.” Boulton said. “Clay’s a cardio machine; he’ll go through a 25-minute UFC fight and run circles around the place, and I was literally eating cheesesteaks at Tony Luke’s the night before.”
Who knows what comes next? Maybe you give Boulton a few weeks of training to get back into fighting shape and the match plays out a lot differently. As an experienced black belt, he’s certainly not one to doubt his own abilities. And after his performance on Saturday, why should he?
“Selfishly, I do think it goes a little bit differently if I am in shape,” Boulton said. “I think I showed I’m pretty dangerous right off the bat, right when I was the freshest, and I was pretty dangerous for the first four to five minutes under that ruleset, and the fitness level that I had.”
Whether he gets the rematch or not, the once in a lifetime experience that is grappling “The Carpenter” has inspired Boulton to get back in the gym, and back onto the Fury Grappling mats in the future.
“For sure, I want to find a fun matchup and I want to do it again. It was a fun match, and I had a lot of fun competing,” Boulton said.
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