The Ultimate Fighting Championship's lightweight division has been busting at the seams with talented fighters. The depth of the division has grown dramatically over the last few years and Clay "The Carpenter" Guida stands as one of the most popular 155-pound fighters in the UFC today. Fans have been enamored with his aggressive style, impressive cardio and his trademark hair.
This Wednesday night the UFC comes to Omaha, Neb., for the 15th installment of UFC Fight Night. The Spike TV televised card will feature a co-main event between The Ultimate Fighter Season 6 winner Mac Danzig and former Strikeforce lightweight champion Guida.
"Training is going good, just counting down the days. Can't wait to get there. I'm pumped to be on the co-main event live on Spike TV," said Guida.
He is coming off a TKO victory over Samy Schiavo at UFC Fight Night 13. The Round Lake, Ill. native wants to put himself into the title contention mix and believes that this fight will be a pivotal point in his career.
"I feel it's the most important fight of my career at this time," revealed the 26-year-old fighter. "Obviously every fight is more important than the last; with an opponent like Mac, it's a great opportunity to showcase my skills."
A veteran of Gladiator Challenge, King of the Cage and Pride Fighting Championships, Danzig has a lot of experience under his belt. After losing to Hayato "Mach" Sakurai at Pride 33, he joined the sixth season of the Ultimate Fighter. The former Gladiator Challenge champion dominated the competition with ease and submitted Tommy Speer in the finale to claim a six-fight contract with the UFC. In his last outing, Danzig submitted Mark Bocek in the third round at UFC 83.
"There is no easy road in the UFC. Some people get thrown to the wolves; some people get their opponents hand picked. He's got a lot of hype coming into this fight after a big win over Mark Bocek, but I'm going to rain on his parade Wednesday night.
"He's very well rounded, he's got pretty good stand-up. He's very slick on the ground; he's submitted a lot of his opponents with a rear naked choke," added the former XFO champion. "Has he been through the fire? I don't think so. Have I? Many times. He's a game opponent."
Prior to his last fight against Bocek, Danzig moved from Los Angeles to Las Vegas to join Xtreme Couture and train full-time. Joining the team has allowed him the opportunity to train with many great fighters such as Randy Couture, Tyson Griffin, Gray Maynard, Chris Horodecki, Jay Hieron and MartinKampmann.
"I hope he's been training with good guys. I know he's been training with Tyson Griffin and Gray Maynard. I want him 100 percent, I like fighting guys who are at the top of their game. I perform better under pressure."
Going into this fight, Guida has an Octagon record of 3-3. Despite what many consider to be controversial losses to Tyson Griffin and Din Thomas, pundits describe Guida's record to be mediocre in a talent-rich division.
"It speaks for itself; it's not a great record. People who have seen me fight know that my fights speak for themselves," responded Guida. "I'm out here to show people that I'm not just a scrappy wrestler with cardio. I'm a well rounded mixed martial artist; I can strike, I can fight off of my back, I can do it all. I've changed the core of my training in the past six months and a lot of people are going to be really excited to see."
A win over Danzig would certainly raise Guida's stock in the bustling weight class and build a path towards a shot at the 155-pound crown.
"It would mean a lot to me, it's a co-main event. He's got a lot of recognition and a lot of hype; a lot people talking about him in the lightweight division. I don't think you can talk about the lightweight division without bringing up my name," stated the Midwest Training Center fighter.
One thing is for certain, Guida intends to stay in the UFC and continue to entertain fans with his exciting style.
"Whatever happens in the cage happens," he said. "Exciting fights just happen. I fight on instinct and reaction. I want to make a title run. I'm here to get that belt, that's why I'm in the UFC. I'm not just fighting to say that I'm 'fighting in the UFC.'"