The perpetual contender.
It could be the best way to describe UFC on FX 4 main event fighter Clay Guida, who has been at or near the top of the lightweight division race for years, but never quite made it to the summit.
As hard of a worker as you’ll ever find in MMA, Guida has faced some of the stiffest competition the UFC could throw at him since day one and he’s never backed down from a challenge.
He holds wins over the two men currently sitting atop the contender’s race right now in Nate Diaz and Anthony Pettis, but Guida still hasn’t been able to secure that elusive title shot for himself.
So what will it take for Guida to finally reach that peak in the lightweight division?
“Running through Gray Maynard,” Guida said when speaking to MMAWeekly Radio. “He was the No. 1 contender for how long, probably two years. I had him No. 2 in the lightweight division all over the world for a couple years, and he had one of the wildest trilogies in MMA, let alone in the lightweight division with Frankie Edgar and he beat Frankie once, they had a draw, and he came up short on one fight.
“He’s always up there. He’s one of the only guys to have beaten Frankie besides Benson Henderson. That says a lot about my opponent and a win over him gets me right back in title contention I believe.”
Maynard is of course coming off a very tough loss to Frankie Edgar in October 2011, which wrapped up their series of fights, leaving the former Michigan State wrestler without a title and handing him the first loss of his professional fighting career.
When the fight was over, Maynard was left in a bit of disarray, spending the better part of a year training and facing Edgar only to walk away without a world title to show for his hard work.
Following the loss, Maynard picked up everything and left his home in Las Vegas for the equally sunny skies of California where he teamed up with the trainers at American Kickboxing Academy.
While the move is a no-brainer in terms of the quality work he’ll get with coaches and teammates, Guida has gone through a similar situation when he left his home camp in Chicago and moved to New Mexico to begin work with famed trainer Greg Jackson and his team.
Guida now feels right at home with his team in New Mexico, but he knew going in that no one gets adjusted without a few growing pains. These are the issues that Guida believes Maynard may be going through as he gets ready for their showdown on June 22 in Atlantic City.
“I don’t think everyone hits the ground running right away. You’re away from your family, you’re away from your friends, things like that, things that you’re used to, you’re out of your comfort zone,” said Guida.
“Look at Georges St-Pierre, he was with Greg (Jackson) and lost to Matt Serra, and then went on a tear from there. His first fight he lost at Jackson’s camp and stuff, it takes some people some time to adjust.”
Adjustment period or not, Guida is expecting to face the absolute best Gray Maynard the world has ever seen. He’s preparing for 25 minutes of hell against the former Ultimate Fighter competitor, and that’s just the way Guida likes it.
“This is definitely tailor made for me,” said Guida. “That’s one thing when we asked for Gray Maynard, we asked for a five-round main event because we know it plays into our cards better. The fans win in this one; the UFC wins in this one.”
The biggest win would obviously be for Clay Guida, who could vault near the top of the division with a victory over Maynard and given his history in the division, it would be hard to argue against a top ranking when Friday night in Atlantic City is over.
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