Clay Guida: I won't go into detail, but I want to finish Ben Henderson (Exclusive Interview)Posted on November 6, 2011, 02:55 PM by Joey Santosus
Look up the term "persevering" in the dictionary and don't be surprised to find the phrase "See Clay Guida." It's just one of the many colorful adjectives that could be use to describe the UFC veteran. A former Strikeforce Champion, Guida made his octagon debut in 2006, approximately three-years after taking his first professional fight. Though his frenzied pace inside of the cage and affable demeanor outside made him an instant fan favorite, the Round Lake, Illinois born Lightweight yielded mixed results competitively, posting a .500 mark in his first ten outings with the promotion.
Dissatisfied, but still undeterred, it was then that Guida would take his dedication to the sport a step further. In an attempt to remove himself from the comforts of his current routine, "The Carpenter," as he is known for his former trade, parked his Winnebago at an Indian Reservation in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which he would then call home while training full-time at Jackson's MMA. As atypical as the approach may have seemed, it would mark the beginning of a new chapter for Guida, who has since went unbeaten in four outings. Back-to-back submission wins against Shannon Gugerty and Rafael dos Anjos would round out 2010 and reestablish Guida as a force at 155-pounds, but it was this year's impressive victories over Takanori Gomi and mega-prospect Anthony Pettis that would firmly cement his place among the division's elite.
Now preparing for what is, perhaps, the most important fight of his career, Guida will face fellow top contender and former WEC Champion Ben Henderson in a bout that many suspect will produce the promotion's next Lightweight title challenger. Here's what "The Carpenter" had to say about Henderson, his title aspirations, and co-headlining the inaugural UFC on Fox card.
You've got Ben Henderson on November 12th. How is your training and preparation going for the fight?
Training has been going great. I have a ton of great guys to work with and the coaches have really helped me continue to elevate my game.
You've been with Jackson's MMA for some time now, so I assume nothing has changed in that regard, but have you done anything differently or worked with anyone in specific to prepare for Henderson?
The coaches love to game plan for each opponent, so in that aspect things are the same, but different. We are working on some specific things for this fight, but i wont go into detail on that.
Since coming over from the WEC, Henderson has went 2-0, defeating two top contenders in Jim Miller and Mark Bocek. Are you surprised by the level of success he's found in such a short period of time? And what, if anything, do you feel Miller and/or Bocek could have done differently to change the outcome of those fights?
Ben is obviously a gamer, he always comes to fight and fight hard. From what I know, he is a real good dude and respectful, so add that to an intense work ethic and that's a great recipe for success. As for the other guys, I'm sure they can tell you what they feel they should have done, that's not really something I focus on.
You welcomed former WEC Champion Anthony Pettis to the octagon in your latest bout and used a wrestling-heavy strategy to completely shut him down. Considering the similarities between he and your next opponent, Henderson, should we expect to see a similar approach from you this time around?
Anthony Pettis is amazing on the feet, he is creative and comes to have fun and fight hard. Our game plan was to go to my strength and simply shut him down, not stay in his range and let him pick at me. I felt I did that pretty good. I would have liked to have worked from the top more, but he really was staying very active on the bottom, so I did what I could. Ben is pretty much the same, great on the feet and solid on ground. I won't go into detail, but I want to finish this fight.
Speaking of Pettis, he was considered the number-one contender heading into your fight. Now that you've taken him out of the equation, Henderson has defeated Jim Miller, and Melvin Guillard recently came up short against Joe Lauzon, that pretty much leaves you and Ben as the last two contenders standing. Have you received confirmation that a win over Henderson will earn you a title shot?
To me, a big win earns a title shot. I want to win big so that there is no question about my title shot. Everyone hyped Melvin Guillard as the obvious next shot, but then he lost in the first-round to Joe (Lauzon). So, I figure with a big win, then it's my turn for that title shot.
This will be your 15th consecutive fight with the UFC in more than five years. Sticking around with the organization for that long is quite an achievement within itself, but your current four-fight winning streak is the longest of your UFC career. Is there anything in particular that you can attribute your recent success to, or do you feel it's more-so a product of your experience?
I really was able to bring my training together and become more of a professional. So, as I became more experienced, my training got more organized. That is probably the biggest thing.
Your fight will serve as co-main event for UFC on Fox 1, which will mark the promotion's debut on the Fox Network. As we've discussed, you've been with the promotion for several years now and therefore present for many of the milestones reached by the organization. Can you talk a little bit about what it's been like as a fighter to grow with the UFC and to now be a part of such a landmark event?
It's amazing really. To come from a wrestling background that doesn't really have a professional circuit, other then the Olympics or the WWE, it is amazing to think that now I’m on PPV and will be on Fox. It's just unreal and awesome. Plus, I meet so many people that just want a picture or to say hello - the fans are usually really cool. I feel that I have been a great ambassador for the UFC, and I hope to continue that trend.
The UFC on Fox card will be headlined by the Heavyweight title clash between Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos, which as of now, is the only fight guaranteed to be broadcast on the Fox Network. How do you see that fight playing out and do you expect it to end quickly enough to allow your fight to be aired on Fox as well?
Those are two big guns that will be coming to swing hard. I personally don’t see it going the distance, but maybe that’s also my hope. Of course I want to be on the Fox show, but my main focus is on November 12th, showing up ready to rock.
Alright Clay. So, what can fans expect to see from "The Carpenter" on November 12th? Any predictions for the bout?
They can expect to see me do what I always do, which is give 110-percent and then some. I'm going to come out intense and leave it all in the cage.
Excellent, we're looking foward to it. On behalf of myself and the staff at LowKick.com, I would like to thank you for taking the time to speak with me, it's been a pleasure. Is there anything you would like to add or any sponsors you would like to mention?
Ya, I want to meet Jeff Bridges, maybe see a show of his or something. I've got to meet the Dude in person. Can you figure that out?
I'm not making any promises Clay, but I'll see what I can do.
I would like to thank my sponsors in no particular order: SafeAuto, Muscle Pharm, Silver Star, ABG, MMA Stop, Legion, the UFC, my management, VF ELITE, and check out my new sponsor, West Coast Authentic for custom memorabilia. Special thanks to all the boys and girls at Jackson's MMA, coach Winkle John, and the troops who live and die so I can run around in the cage like a maniac.
Photos: Francis Specker