Former Strikeforce lightweight champion Clay Guida (above) faces off against Benson Henderson on Saturday night's UFC on Fox 1 undercard. (AP)
Even though Clay Guida and Benson Henderson are fighting on Saturday's UFC on Fox 1 undercard, the two lightweights can agree on one thing: Henderson has the better hair.
“There’s only room for one long-haired guy in the UFC,” Guida joked about Henderson, a quip between fighters known as much for their long hairstyles as their fast-paced fighting styles.
Coiffure aside, Saturday’s showdown -- which will stream live on Facebook.com and Foxsports.com -- features two of the top fighters in the UFC’s strongest weight division. Guida, a one-time Strikeforce champion, has won his last four fights and Henderson, a former WEC champ, is 2-0 in the UFC. Guida has only fought in two title bouts during his 40-fight career, but believes an emphatic win over Henderson would make him worthy of a shot at Frankie Edgar. After beating Anthony Pettis is his last fight, the 29-year-old is closer than ever to his first five-round fight in the UFC.
“That’s all I think about day and night,” Guida said. “I’m here to entertain people and get that strap around my waist and wear it for a long time.”
Guida, who trains at Jackson-Winkeljohn MMA in Albuquerque, N.M., takes the preparation seriously. The man who credits his legendary cardio to simply “out-training” opponents doesn’t even have a house. Sometimes he stays at the place he bought his parents in Crest Hill, Ill., when he isn’t training, but usually he lives in an RV to be closer to the gym.
“It’s kind of cheesy,” Guida said, “but I’m always on the road to victory.”
The RV is decorated with movie memorabilia from The Big Lebowski. While Guida is known for his relentless fight pace, his friends say his personality outside the octagon is more like “The Dude” from his favorite movie. If anyone can understand a fighter with a calm personal demeanor, it’s Guida’s opponent.
Henderson is a devout Christian with a pair of angel’s wings tattooed across his entire back. He spends his Friday nights reading in Barnes & Noble instead of barhopping. The self-proclaimed nerd isn’t sure if he visits bookstores on weekends because he loves to read or if he loves to read because he visits bookstores, but he knows his lifestyle and fighting style are based around his faith.
“Every time I step into the cage I give everything I have,” said Henderson. “I open up my heart and soul.”
While their personalities might not match their rugged appearances, it's a safe bet that two of the fastest-paced lightweights in the UFC can make a fight that lives up to advance billing.
-- Stephen Boyle