USCS Fight of the Week: Anthony Pettis and Clay Guida Meet in a Stylistic Dream Matchup
Since launching himself off of the cage and into mixed martial arts folklore at WEC 53 against Benson Henderson, fans have impatiently waited for Anthony Pettis' UFC debut. And in just a matter of days at The Ultimate Fighter 13 Finale, "Showtime" will meet relentless wrestler Clay Guida in a lightweight title eliminator.
Featuring two of the Midwest's most likeable and talented fighters, the battle between Guida and Pettis may be the 155-pound division's most interesting and telling stylistic matchup in years.
Pettis, who has become famous with the "Showtime kick" and a stint on MTV's World of Jenks reality series, has seen a meteoric rise within the sport after making his pro debut just four years ago in his home state of Wisconsin.
Training under legendary kickboxer Duke Roufus, Pettis earned eight victories within Milwaukee in the now defunct Gladiators Cage Fighting organization before going 6-1 during his stint in the WEC that culminated in an organizational title and a once-promised UFC title shot.
However, repeated setbacks have occurred in the feud between Gray Maynard and Frankie Edgar leaving Pettis in the midst of a jumbled race for the top contender spot that includes himself, Guida, Jim Miller, Dennis Siver, and despite what UFC President Dana White says Strikeforce's Gilbert Melendez.
The road has been a bit more arduous to Saturday's battle for Guida. Hailing from northern Illinois, and now training under Greg Jackson in New Mexico, "The Carpenter" has spent the last eight years evolving into a bona fide title contender.
Following a 3-3 beginning to his career, Guida went on an impressive 15-fight winning stretch in a one-year span mostly spent within the local scene. He ran into a plethora of talented competitors between '06-'07 including Melendez, Tyson Griffin, and Roger Huerta in which he lost six of his next ten bouts between Strikeforce, WEC, and the UFC.
Since a heartbreaking defeat to Heurta in 2007, Guida has now won six of his last eight including a three-fight win streak over Shannon Gugerty, Rafael dos Anjos, and a most recent second-round submission over Takanori Gomi. Up next is the rapidly blossoming Pettis.
Entering Saturday's main event matchup both Pettis and Guida are known for their differing styles. Guida has proven to be one of the most high-energy wrestlers throughout his 13-fight UFC career. He has taken part in numerous "fight of the year" candidates and shown the ability to absorb an insane amount of punishment while continually coming forward and pushing the pace of the fight. Since joining Jackson's camp he has also shown an increased ability to end fights via submission.
On the other side of the cage stands well-rounded martial artist Pettis. While mostly known for his striking prowess developed by his years of Taekwondo, "Showtime" has showcased a more than adequate ground game including an active guard off of his back.
The true measure of Pettis as a fighter, which would undoubtedly be on display if a battle between Maynard or Edgar ever formulated, will be his continued ability of staying active once taken to the mat. On the feet, Pettis should have the edge in striking. However, if he hopes to continue his run towards the UFC title it will be imperative for him to either escape back to his feet or work submissions from the bottom if Guida is able to work his game plan.
For Guida, success is most likely if he's able to take Pettis off of his feet and then stay out of his deep guard once on the ground. Playing into the younger fighter's strengths is a potentially dangerous option for Guida and one that his coaching staff is able to avoid.
All in all, the lightweight matchup between Pettis and Guida has the makings of one of the better fights in recent division history, not to mention that it's free for all to see. Even though White has stated that the winner may not be anointed the next immediate challenger, an impressive victory from either man may just change his mind.