After six years, 16 fights, seven ‘fight night' bonuses, and two failed number one contender bouts, Clay Guida needed a change of scenery.
The 30-year-old perennial lightweight contender announced his intentions to drop down to the UFC's 145-pound division late last week, and on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour, he made it clear the decision was not the result of coercion. It was simply his to make.
"The fact that I'm pretty undersized at lightweight, I think now is the time," Guida conceded. "Coming off of two losses, I'm going down on my terms. No one is forcing me to. It's just, I'm going to do things on my terms. We made a pretty good couple runs at lightweight, and who's the say we won't go [back] up there after a few fights. You never know."
Obviously the most recent of those two losses, in particular, sticks out like a sore thumb, and it's the one Guida is still answering questions for four months after the fact.
Utilizing an elusive and non-confrontational gameplan, Guida fought to a widely-panned split decision against Gray Maynard in the main event of UFC on FX 4. Guida endured a cascade of vitriol from both fans and fellow fighters in the aftermath of the loss. Nonetheless, in the ensuing post-fight press conference he announced that he was "happy with his performance," and even now, he stands by his belief that he won the fight.
"Logical fans that actually go back and pick that fight apart, and didn't just judge it by the first time seeing it [agree with me]," Guida explained. "Don't get me wrong, I definitely don't think it was the most exciting fight that I've put on, or that the UFC has had as a main event in a while. But then if you see the fight, I believe, less than a month later, the Renan Barao and Urijah Faber fight ... I remember they were actually holding hands three or four times in the fight. I don't know, don't quote me but I'm pretty sure you know what I'm talking about.
"The big heavyweights that fought that night (Cheick Kongo vs. Shawn Jordan), I think I actually feel asleep at the bar. The Tim Boetsch and Hector Lombard [fight], I think someone had to actually wake me up because I was snoring at the bar.
"So I wouldn't say my fight was the most boring," he continued. "But a logical fan and a logical analyst goes back there and watches the fight, and watches my gameplan and sees the footwork, sees the improvement that we have made ... If you look, I outstruck him. I was much faster than him. It felt like I was two or three steps ahead of Gray the whole time. I outwrestled him, I stopped all of his takedowns. I defended submissions, got a little bit of ground and pound, broke his nose, cut his face. I got my hair pulled numerous times. Let's see, the list goes on. Oh yeah, profanity, words were thrown in my direction along with being flipped off in the cage. So it's whatever. If people are going to boo me because of that, then so be it. But I know there's logical fans out there that realize what fight they saw.
"I'm sure [Maynard] still knows what happened in the cage that evening," Guida concluded.
Fight fans are notoriously fickle, and his co-workers don't exactly pay his bills, so Guida remains unfazed by the overwhelmingly negative reaction to his performance. However, the most significant, and perhaps the most vocal critic of Guida's strategy was none other than his boss, UFC President Dana White.
Following the fight, White spoke at length about his disgust with Guida, saying he "sucked" and infamously declaring, "This isn't Dancing with the Stars. You can't win a fight running around in circles."
Guida has a long, mostly amiable history with White, so he couldn't help but be surprised by his boss' comments.
"Absolutely," he admitted. "I know Dana is very busy, but I wonder if he has gone back and watched the fight since being there live.
"I'm sure he maybe said some things right away just because it wasn't the most exciting main event that they expect from two high-powered lightweights in Gray Maynard and myself. You know what, it's his job to promote a show and to try to get the most exciting main event. I believe in the three or four main events I've been in, I think a few of them were ‘Fight of the Night.' So we'll be right back there in the featherweight division, and hopefully getting bonuses and putting on fights of the night in a short time."
Guida has yet to settle on a date or opponent for his 145-pound debut, though he hopes to either compete in the UFC's year-end event or sometime in early 2013. And while he'd prefer to fight a top-ranked opponent, as he looks towards the future he admits his bargaining power isn't the strongest right now.
"It's hard to see a guy come out with two losses in two main events, or co-main events, and come down a weight class and ask for a bigger name," Guida flatly said. "So, who knows? Are they going to put me in there with someone that's got two or three wins in a row, or are they going to give me a guy that's got one or two losses in a row?
"I don't really have any names picked out," he concluded. "But I would definitely like a higher profile fight. I would like to fight someone who has a couple of wins under their belt at 145 [pounds] that's going to put us in position to make a run at the featherweight -- I'm still getting used to saying that -- featherweight division right out of the gate."