What do you think of when you hear the name Clay Guida?
To mixed martial arts fans, the lightweight’s name has become synonymous with adjectives such as exciting, relentless, and perhaps even reckless. His style has won him a handful of fights and lost him a few as well. It’s a style that leads to him taking plenty of damage while also dishing it out.
But the biggest benefit Guida’s fighting style brings him is the fan support that comes along with being one of the promotion’s top entertainers.
Pleasing the fans seems like a very important aspect of being a fighter. Is anyone here waiting anxiously for a UFC Unleashed featuring Ben Rothwell vs. Gilbert Yvel, Anderson Silva vs. Demian Maia, or Kalib Starnes vs. Nate Quarry? Fans don’t want to see someone lay on top of his opponent, move to mount several times, and still fail to get the finish. And no one wants to see a fighter literally run away from his opponent, especially when that fighter is the UFC middleweight champion and arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
When someone buys a ticket to a UFC event, or throws down 50 bucks to watch the show live on pay-per-view, that person is going to be very disappointed if they have to watch a fight that is remotely similar to any of the three aforementioned atrocities.
That’s where Clay Guida comes in.
Guida is certainly not the most technical striker in the UFC lightweight division, nor is he the best wrestler. His game is well-rounded enough to make him competitive, but his skill alone is hardly why he has gained popularity over the years. I mean, look at where he falls in the lightweight division. He is not in the top five, and Guida receiving a title shot in the near future just doesn’t seem plausible.
The popularity Guida has found has not come about the same way that BJ Penn or Georges St. Pierre or popular. No, Guida’s popularity has come about in much the same way Chris Lytle and Chris Leben have gained fame in the cage.
As opposed to becoming a fan favorite by winning a belt or talking a good game before the fight, Guida simply enters the cage and, win or lose, makes sure the fans have a good time watching him brawl nearly every time he sets foot inside the Octagon. And having fan support due to his style has its benefits.
With such enormous support from the fans, Guida has gained job security in a sport that rarely offers much and also finds himself in a main card fight this weekend as opposed to a preliminary one.
Just take a look at UFC 117. Guida’s bout with Rafael dos Anjos, a fight featuring two lightweights several large steps from a spot in the top tier of the division, received the main card slot over bouts such as Rick Story vs. Dustin Hazelett, Phil Davis vs. Rodney Wallace, and Thiago Silva vs. Tim Boetsch before Silva, a light heavyweight contender, was forced out of the bout due to injury.
Now, none of those fights have major implications in terms of potential title shots or divisional standings, but all three are important in some way. Before Silva was forced to withdraw, his fight was set to determine if he could make the jump back into the title mix after dropping a unanimous decision to top contender Rashad Evans at UFC 108. Hazelett’s bout was an opportunity for the jiu-jits wizard to ignite a run towards the welterweight division’s top tier. The bout between Davis and Wallace features one of the promotion’s top prospects (Davis), who is currently undefeated as a professional mixed martial artist.
However, as opposed to promoting a rising talent, a top submission artist, or a slugger who was once in the title mix at 205-pounds, the promotion went with Guida vs. dos Anjos, and it really is not a surprise why.
When fans are on the fence about purchasing a card, one name could make all the difference. UFC 117 is already a stacked card that would probably sell the same amount of pay-per-views with or without Guida’s presence, but, just as Guida gains job security from his fighting style, the average fan is going to feel more secure about getting his or her money’s worth due to the lightweight’s tenacity.
He may not be fighting for a title shot anytime soon and he may not be a top five lightweight, but Clay Guida is a valuable commodity. In a sport where few things are certain, Guida’s presence on a main card is comforting. It means regardless of what Anderson Silva decides to do this time around, or whether or not some of the bouts don’t exactly blow you away, at least one bout will be worthwhile. At least one fighter will leave everything he has in the cage, win or lose, in order to entertain the fans. And that is what Clay Guida is all about.