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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Clay Guida and Joe Lauzon have been fighting in the UFC for 11 years and never fought each other.

Of all the places they’d end that streak, Norfolk, Va., doesn’t seem like a leading candidate. They seemed to have been chugging along fine fighting everyone but each other.

The UFC couldn’t hold off forever, though.

Guida (33-17 MMA, 13-11 UFC) and Lauzon (27-13 MMA, 14-10 UFC) are a few days away from finally exchanging fists Saturday on the FS1-televised main card of UFC Fight Night 120. With 24 octagon bouts apiece and 24 post-fight bonuses between them, they’re two of the most experienced and rewarded UFC competitors to ever face off.

“It’s going to be fireworks in there, and everybody knows it,” Guida said. “This fight has been a long time coming. Somehow, Joe and I have always just maybe missed each other. You know we’d never dodge anybody.

It had never been offered to me, and I’m sure it had never been offered to him. I jumped right at it, just like I’m sure he jumped at it.”

Don’t tell Guida the fight should have happened a decade ago. You’ll make him feel old.

Guida might be 35, but he’s feeling better now than he did a decade ago. Every part of his job has been maximized for efficiency. There’s no more of the waste that comes with youth.

He ventures the thing that’s kept him going this long is his work ethic. He is always training and improving in the gym. He also might have some really good genetics.

It’s long past the time Guida and Lauzon were considered hot up-and-comers with the potential to fight for a title. But Guida said there’s still time to get back to that status, no matter how crowded the lightweight division is with new and established talent.

“Here’s the deal – I left the UFC lightweight division a few years ago to go down to 145 for star power,” he said. “I was probably No. 3 in the rankings. I had back-to-back decision losses to Benson Henderson, who went on to be the champ, Gray Maynard, who was almost the champ – those are arguably two of the best guys in the world at the time, and I lost razor-close decisions.

“I left on my terms. I left in the top three or four, and I’m going to be back in the top one or two within the year. I’m coming for all these jokers and clowns and hot shots that think they’re tough.”

For more from Guida, check out the video above.

And for more on UFC Fight Night 120, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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