Kenny Florian v Clay Guida – Lightweight bout
This clash of lightweight veterans sees a 33 year old TUF 1 alumnus take on the underdog Chicagoan Clay Guida, who claims to enjoy that status, and his endless enthusiasm for going to war in the cage bears that out.
Florian, as with a few other notable fighters (including Diego Sanchez, also fighting on this card), dropped to his natural class of 155lbs soon after completing his middleweight (185lb) campaign in The Ultimate Fighter 1, and looks far more effective at the weight.
Kenny Florian goes into this fight a 4/9 favourite, which reflects the higher calibre of his previous opponents.
Unfortunately, his highest profile fights have resulted in losses; to Sanchez at The Ultimate Fighter 1 final, to Sean Sherk when contesting the title at UFC 64, and most recently to BJ Penn at UFC 101 when again testing himself against the champion. He should justify those odds, but against an always game Guida nothing can be taken for granted.
Clay "The Carpenter" Guida is priced at 13/8 against.
His nom de plume is derived from his prior profession: he actually was a carpenter (when not crab-fishing off Alaska). The prosaic nature of his nickname gives a big hint to his pragmatic approach to fighting; he relies on cardio and endurance over technique. Guida remains his own man as a professional fighter, even reportedly turning down $10k to cut his shoulder length hair, which prevented his likeness being modelled for a UFC videogame.
The 28 years, but 35 fights-old Guida comes into this match-up equipped with a strong ground and pound game, utilising his wrestling ability, and most importantly a seemingly granite chin.
He survived shots from Sanchez in their fight that would have made an Easter Island statue lay down and admit defeat and it is questionable as to whether Florian has sufficient power to put the self-proclaimed "ugliest, scariest, toughest dude in the lightweight division" out of action.
What Kenny does boast are the often-mentioned (and often decisive) "razor sharp elbows" which can be a shortcut to ending a fight against any opponent.
I see Kenny taking the fight to Guida, utilising his Muay Thai to cause damage and his superior submission game to choke out Clay late on in the fight. I also see this as a good Fight Of The Night chance: Guida has won the honours in his last two fights, and only the show put on by Jon "War Machine" Koppenhaver and Jared Rollins at The Ultimate Fighter 6 Finale prevents him taking four from his last seven appearances.
Florian possesses one such bonus pay-cheque, after submitting the BJJ specialist Joe Lauzon at Fight Night 13.
Florian's strengths are the aforementioned Muay Thai, his submission skills, and his cerebral approach to fighting. Undertaking colour commentary duties for both the UFC and the WEC, Kenny has shown his thorough knowledge of the ground game, exemplified by his submission victories over Sam Stout, Kit Cope, and also previous title contender Joe "Daddy" Stevenson - all by rear naked choke.
Thinking two steps ahead should prove to be the difference between him and the "wild chimpanzee" (quote courtesy of Joe Rogan) Guida. It remains to be seen whether Guida can echo the climax to his decision loss to Sanchez, greeting the judge's verdict and the post fight interview with a smile and a fair impression of the Duracell bunny, showing no ill effects from the numerous elbows, uppercuts, and the wince-inducing head kick he absorbed.
I feel he will see a repeat in having his opponent's arm raised, but likely without recourse to the judges.