The UFC on FX 4 main event between Gray Maynard and Clay Guida was supposed to be a can't-miss thriller. Instead, the fight took a turn into the land of the bizarre, with periods of inactivity, a referee warning for failure to engage, taunting, an audience turn and a frantic finish.
It all added up to a split-decision win for Maynard, who won his first post-Frankie Edgar fight, taking the bout by scores of 48-47, 48-47, 47-48.
Guida walked into the cage -- "bounced" into it is a more apt description -- as the overwhelming crowd favorite, but minute-by-minute, round-by-round he lost them. That was because of his constant insistence on moving away from any engagement.
Maynard spent much of the two opening two rounds stalking Guida, but could hardly ever catch him to land anything at all. At times, his movement was simple and effective evasion from a dangerous situation. At other times, it could more simply be described as running away.
By the end of the third round, Maynard was visibly frustrated.
In the very next round, that emotion surfaced, playing a key role when Maynard backed Guida up to the fence, and as Guida started to move away, Maynard dropped his hands to his side and verbally taunted him, offering his chin as a target. Guida took the opportunity to throw three strikes, and Maynard never even raised his hands to defend himself, he was so unconcerned with Guida's power. Then Guida ducked low for the takedown, and Maynard sprawled before trying a guillotine.
With that, any remaining members of the Atlantic City, New Jersey crowd that were originally rooting for Guida completely swung in Maynard's favor, so thrilled that he'd lured Guida into some sustained offense. Maynard didn't get the submission as Guida slammed his way free, but the fight was swinging in his direction.
In the fifth, Maynard again basically opened up his defense hoping for Guida to wade in, but he mostly resisted until referee Dan Miragliotta called timeout to warn Guida he would take a point away if he continued to fail to engage. Maynard flurried soon after, and taking the final round likely stole the victory from Guida.
Before the official result was read, the Revel Casino crowd chanted Maynard's name, and received their wish when he was announced as the winner improving to 11-1-1 with 1 no contest while Guida fell to 29-13.
"I thought Guida was coming to fight," Maynard said afterward. "I came to fight. I came to get bloody, have fun. I wanted to prove I could go a hard five."
While Maynard had walked in as the betting favorite, it was Guida who was believed to have the advantage if the fight went into the late rounds. But in this bizarro world where Clay Guida suddenly became boring, the unlikely became the norm.