Friday, Dec. 11, 2009 | midnight
- Complete Coverage: UFC 107
- UFC 107 results: Penn wins by TKO in final round
- Best B.J. Penn ever?
- Frank Mir runs his mouth, backs it up in Kongo fight
- Fireside Chat with Dana White
- Breaking down UFC 107: Penn v. Sanchez
- Breaking down UFC 107: Mir v. Kongo
- Breaking down UFC 107: Florian v. Guida
- Diego Sanchez looks to put pressure on B.J. Penn
- Kenny Florian optimistic third title shot a possiblity
- Frank Mir talks about past, present and future
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Clay Guida is the guy you don’t want to share the mat with at practice.
At any moment in his warmups, Guida is likely to take off on a crazy sprint to the other side of the mat or violently go into a sprawl before bouncing back to his feet and circling around the room.
For a fighter who thrives on chaos, Guida made an interesting decision when he chose to seek out the technically focused Greg Jackson to help him prepare for his upcoming lightweight fight with Kenny Florian on Saturday at the FedEx Forum.
After a few months of work, Guida says he and Jackson found the perfect balance of adding structure to his style without sapping the energy that’s given him success in the past.
“We mix it up very well. I’ve only known the guy a couple months, but it feels like we’ve known each other forever,” Guida said. “He didn’t try to change me as a fighter; he just tried to take my strengths and redirect them. He’s given me a new sense of confidence.”
Since making his UFC debut in 2006, Guida has put together an unspectacular record of 5-4 — although you wouldn’t know it by the amount of respect and adoration he receives from fans.
But while his fans have been able to overlook his lackluster record, the subject of wins and losses has started to weigh on the fighter.
“I’m not satisfied with the performances I’ve had in the UFC,” Guida said. “I’m having fun, which is what it’s all about, but it’s time to start finishing fights with an exclamation point."
“Look at my record. It’s 5-4. That’s awful. It just motivated me; it gets me to run one more mile, throw more punches, sweat and bleed a little more.”
Guida’s decision to switch up his camp and focus on finishing fights may have been impacted by his last fight, a split decision loss to Diego Sanchez.
That fight appeared to be heading for an early finish when Sanchez launched an aggressive charge that had Guida in trouble from the opening moments.
Despite being dominated in the first round of that fight, Guida came back in the next two to force the split decision and give what many fans are considering the fight of the year.
Although Guida described the fight as the kind that "has no loser," he admitted to being critical of himself for not seizing opportunities that could have taken it out of the judges’ hands.
With the addition of one of the most respected trainers in the sport, Guida is confident he’s learned enough to make sure the next time he’s in a war like that, he’ll come out on top.
“If you look at my previous fights (before the UFC), I was putting guys away,” Guida said. “Once I got into that stiffer competition, it got tougher to put guys away. If I want to be a top-tier fighter, I have to focus on finishing fights again."
“Greg Jackson has got me pretending that the judges don’t exist. I’m setting caution to the win, and I don’t want to leave it anyone’s hands but mine.”
The pace of a fight always plays a role in determining the winner, but it could be a huge factor when Florian and Guida meet on Saturday.
The technical Florian is expecting Guida to try to turn the fight into a brawl and says his plan is to remain patient and not fall into his opponent’s style of fighting.
“Guida is the kind of guy that likes to frustrate you, and the key is trying to be patient with a guy like that,” Florian said. “I have to get him to play my game. If I go into his element, that’s where he shines.”
Although Guida may hold the advantage in wrestling, his main concern is Florian’s takedowns from the clinch that set up his great Jiu-Jitsu skills on the ground.
While Guida should be comfortable on the ground, he wants the fight to go there on his terms.
“He’s good off his back and he’s got good submissions,” Guida said. “He’s going to want to push the clinch, and I’m expecting him to want to be on top. I’d say 80 to 90 percent of the guys he’s been on top of, he finishes.”
The fight could easily go back and forth in terms of dominant positions, but the ending could rely on Guida’s improvement at finishing fights, as Florian has already shown he’s capable of ending a fighter’s night early.
“He doesn’t have the knockout power; he doesn’t have a crazy submission game,” Florian said. “Usually when he gets on top, he holds you. He’s not effective in implementing a tremendous amount of damage. He’s a tough guy to beat but not necessarily one of those guys that’s going to submit you or knock you out.”
Last Time Out:
Florian: Fourth-round loss by submission to B.J. Penn at UFC 101.
Guida: Split-decision loss to Diego Sanchez at TUF Finale: Team US vs. Team UK
The Lines: Florian: minus-190; Guida: plus-160
Florian: On his loss to B.J. Penn: “I saw that I needed to improve my overall game. My boxing wasn’t where it needed to be; my wrestling wasn’t where it needed to be. I didn’t perform like I know I could have, and that’s what hurt me the most. Sometimes you have a good night; sometimes you have an off night. That wasn’t my night.
Guida: On the hits he survived in his last fight: “I saw flashes. I go back and laugh at the film because you don’t see too many people get up from that. But that’s just what we’re made of — hard work and weathering the storm. The fight could have gone either way.”
Brett Okamoto can be reached at 948-7817 or [email protected].