The most energetic man in MMA is back in the Octagon on Saturday, as Clay Guida takes on Rafael dos Anjos on the UFC 117 main card...How did 'The Carpenter' get here?
After 34 pro fights, it’s safe to say that Clay Guida has taken his share of hard shots over the years.
“I got kicked in the face by Diego (Sanchez) but I didn’t really feel that,” muses ‘The Carpenter’. “It was more like I didn’t know which way was up, sideways, down, north, south, east, or west. (Laughs) Kenny (Florian) rocked me pretty good too.”
But the hardest blows the lightweight standout has ever received have come courtesy of an unlikely source: his brother Jason, whose pre-fight slaps to get his younger sibling in the right frame of mind before he steps into battle have become a trademark of the fighting Guida boys.
“He started doing it in the smaller shows, it just kinda stuck, and I tell you what, I’ve never been hit so hard in a fight,” laughs Guida, who calls the ritual “a staple of the system.”
And even though he admits to seeing stars at times before the bell even rings, he wouldn’t change a thing.
“I know I ain’t gonna get hit as hard as my brother hits me, and that gets me so amped up and excited, and the whole crowd is like ‘what the hell is wrong with these guys,’ and it gets them jacked up,” he said. “We’re almost peaking. That’s just a reminder to go out there and have fun. That’s the way my brother is, he’s the one that got me here, and I’m gonna take it the rest of the way.”
That’s Clay Guida. It may not always be technically precise or, as Joe Rogan once described Anderson Silva’s style, “a ballet of violence,” but when it comes to pure energy, adrenalin, and crowd-pleasing goodness, there’s none better than the kid with the wild hair from Johnsburg, Illinois.
Yet following back-to-back 2009 losses to Sanchez and Florian, Guida admits that he was aware that a defeat in his March bout against Shannon Gugerty could have been a costly one.
“To me, being an MMA fighter is not a job, it’s a hobby for me,” said Guida, 26-8 as a pro. “I’m having so much fun with it, and the cool part of it is, we do get paid. But in the same sense, I knew there was pressure because I don’t care who you are – you lose three fights in a row, you’re probably gonna be looking for a job, and in my case I’d probably be putting a tool belt back on.”
You would guess that the former carpenter and ship worker would be safe from the axe simply because he always leaves it all in the Octagon every time he steps in there. And even when he says “I’m 6-5 in the UFC and that’s awful. I might as well have a losing record,” it has to register for a minute because he’s had so many entertaining bouts that you can forget about the final result. Guida didn’t though, yet he decided to throw caution to wind and just go out there and fight against Gugerty.
“I was gonna go out there and fight my fight, which I did not do against Kenny Florian for the second half of the fight, and which I did not do for the first minute or two against Diego Sanchez,” he said. “I fought their fight and look at the outcome – they got their hand raised. So now when I fight my fight, it’s gonna be a long and painful night for my opponents. So as long as I’m doing my thing, we’re gonna be all right. I don’t put pressure on myself in a fight. I just go out there and fight my fight and I come out happy, the fans are happy, and that’s that.”
There were plenty of smiles to go around on March 21st, as Guida submitted Gugerty in the second round. Talk to Guida, and he’ll deflect all the praise to his new team at Jackson’s MMA in Albuquerque, a squad that has rejuvenated the 28-year old.
“I needed some direction as far as my training instead of going to the gym in the morning, eating, running errands, and then going to the gym at night,” he said. “It was a perfect change of pace for me, I fit right in and I love it. This is the gym for me and I’m glad I’m here.”
This Saturday, Guida returns to action against Rafael dos Anjos, a tough matchup for anyone in the division. And while you can point to certain things that the Brazilian may do better than Guida, he doesn’t care because he knows he has the means to find a way to win.
“I’m usually the underdog, and probably the less skilled, but I’ve had more tenacity and drive than a lot of my opponents and I come out with my hand raised,” he said. “So I know I can find a way, and under the watchful eye of Mike Winklejohn and Greg Jackson, I know we’re gonna be able to find a way to beat opponents that are better skilled, have more tactics, or have been in the game longer than us.”
But what’s the real secret to being Clay Guida? Not surprisingly he has no problem revealing the final ingredients.
“Go out there, react, have fun, be a fighter, and be yourself,” he said. “That’s what got people that far, but I think sometimes they lose sight of that. They need to get back to who they are and what got them there.”
And if Guida ever forgets, he has his brother Jason to remind him before every fight.