Clay Guida on Tilt With Ben Henderson: “I Don’t Think He Expects to Win”
By Kelsey Mowatt
As 2009 came to a close, some throughout the MMA world may have thought Clay Guida’s days as a top, lightweight contender were numbered, following back-to-back losses to Diego Sanchez and Kenny Florian. In keeping with the aggressive and continuous fighting style that has made the veteran a fan favorite, however, just two years and four wins later, Guida is back in the title shot mix.
“I think we’ve narrowed in on our strengths a little bit more,” said Guida (29-11), while discussing his recent successes, which has led to his fight this Saturday with former WEC champion Ben Henderson (14-2). “In the past couple of years, since I’ve been training at Greg Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts and working with coach Mike Winkeljohn, I think we’ve found a style kind of all my own and I’m more confident than I was in the past.”
“I go out there and use more of my wrestling tools and my striking has opened up my wrestling game,” Guida added, who has scored victories over Shannon Gugerty, Rafael dos Anos, Takanori Gomi and most recently former WEC title holder Anthony Pettis, since the defeat to Florian. “So, it’s just a lot more gameplan, I’ve rededicated myself to being the better student, drilling the fundamentals more, what got me here and what’s going to take me to that title.”
Considering Guida’s recent run and the fact that Henderson is coming off an impressive, unanimous decision win over contender Jim Miller, the winner of the UFC on FOX match-up could very well be the next to challenge lightweight champion Frankie Edgar.
“I would hope so, five in a row, against tough opponents, they definitely should be speaking about us with some sort of solid, title hopes,” Guida told FCF, when asked if he believes a win over Henderson will open the door to a title fight. “Going out there and taking out Ben Henderson with an exclamation point is going to make it an easier transition for them to put me as the number one contender…But I’m not there just yet, so I have to go out there and earn it.”
Despite the importance of the November 12th fight, FOX’s one hour broadcast will not include the Henderson, Guida bout, even if the heavyweight title fight between champion Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos ends quickly. Although the programming decision disappointed some fans, the noteworthy lightweight clash will be available for viewing on Facebook.
“I can’t say it doesn’t bother me, but we’re dealing with what we got,” said Guida, while discussing the fact that he and Henderson won’t appear on the UFC on FOX 1 broadcast. “We’re going to go out there and put on a good show anyways. I think you’re going to see the true fans come through and millions of people are going to see it online. Hopefully they can get some of their friends who are just getting into mixed-martial-arts to watch it.”
Guida credited the Jackson MMA camp for opening up his highly regarded “wrestling game,” and it will be interesting to see on Saturday how each man’s grappling abilities comes into play.
“He’s definitely one of the better wrestlers without a doubt,” said Guida about the two time, NAIA All-American. “I tend to do very well against good wrestlers so I’m excited about this match-up; it’s going to display a lot of athleticism on both ends.”
“I’m going to take the fight wherever I want it to go,” Guida furthered. “I’m not really all that concerned with what he’s going to do. We already trained with a game-plan in mind for the last ten weeks so it’s time to go out and execute.”
Another of the interesting back stories to this weekend’s fight is the fact that Guida is coming off an aforementioned win over Pettis, the man who ended Henderson’s reign as WEC champion last year.
“I think I’ll have a mental edge in every other aspect; I haven’t really thought about that,” Guida said. “I think it’s just the fact that I’ve beaten better opponents, I’ve been in the game longer, I have more experience, and that’s going to escalate me past him. I’ve been through the fire a bunch of times…I expect to win; I don’t think he expects to win.”