Guida not impressed by newbie Pettis
It's nothing personal against Anthony Pettis; he's a talented fighter, the WEC's final lightweight champion and his ledger is sprinkled with wins over respectable opponents. But Clay Guida really isn't feeling him right now.
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The UFC veteran refuses to give Pettis any props until after seeing for himself what Pettis brings in the cage Saturday night at The Palms in Las Vegas. As far as Guida is concerned, Pettis has to earn his stripes in the UFC Octagon before receiving top billing as a mixed martial artist.
There's another issue that has Guida shaking his head: Pettis is one win from likely getting a UFC lightweight title shot against the Frankie Edgar-Gray Maynard winner.
In Guida's mind, there's something wrong with this scenario.
"It's the fact that I've paid my dues in the UFC," Guida (28-11-0) told ESPN.com. "It's my time. I'm going to make him pay [his UFC dues] June 4. It's not out of any rivalry or anything like that, but he's going to realize that it's time to step it up."
Guida has a point, of course. The list of lightweights he has faced in the cage is impressive -- Kenny Florian, Gilbert Melendez, Nate Diaz, Diego Sanchez and Takanori Gomi.
There are other recognizable names in Guida's book, but by now you get the point.
"He has fought some tough guys," Guida said. "He has wins over Shane Roller and Ben Henderson -- they are tough guys. But I've fought the best in the cage.
"Pettis is super tough. He's riding a wave of confidence, he's got the kick heard around the world and he's beaten some tough guys. But I know I've fought and lost to tougher guys than him, and I've beaten better guys than him."
It's futile to dismiss anything Guida has said here thus far. But to diminish what Pettis (13-1-0) has accomplished in his brief mixed martial arts career would be foolish. There's no evidence to suggest that Guida is belittling Pettis' abilities or rapid success in the cage -- if Guida were to underestimate Pettis in the least Saturday night, his win streak would surely end at three. Pettis will be making his UFC debut against Guida, but he is more than up to the task. He relishes the opportunity to show what he can do on MMA's grandest stage.
"The UFC atmosphere isn't going to shake him up at all," Pettis' lead trainer, Duke Roufus, told ESPN.com. "He's excited to get it on with Clay Guida.
"Anthony reminds me of that Michael Jordan-type of guy. When there are 10 seconds left, he's the guy who's going to say 'Give me the basketball, I'm going to put it in the hole.' He's just that type of primetime player. He's got that winner instinct inside of him. And he brings a very unique style of fighting to the Octagon."
Pettis can't match Guida résumé for résumé at this point in his career. There were good fighters in WEC, but the biggest stars reside in UFC and only now are the top lightweights available to Pettis.
What Pettis does bring into this fight with Guida is a fighting style that's all his own. He is a big, strong, fast 155-pound fighter who delivers strikes from unpredictable angles. He also owns a solid chin and above-average defense. And he will not be intimidated when the horn sounds to start his fight with Guida.
Anthony reminds me of that Michael Jordan-type of guy. When there are 10 seconds left, he's the guy who's going to say 'Give me the basketball, I'm going to put it in the hole.' He's just that type of primetime player.” -- Trainer Duke Roufus, on Anthony Pettis' panache
But what has contributed most to Pettis' fast rise is the excitement he generates. There has yet to be a boring fight in which Pettis was one of the participants. He brings it every time.
Guida has also built a name for himself by putting on exciting fights, but according to Roufus, he isn't in Pettis' league when it comes to entertaining the fan base.
"Clay Guida, if he wins, the only way he's going to win is by being boring," Roufus said. "If Anthony loses, at least he's going to go out there and fight for the fans.
"That's what the fans are looking for. We have champions in the UFC right now who are criticized for being boring. Anthony is not in the same neighborhood of 'boring.' If you win the fans over you will be fighting forever."
If Guida is to be believed, the last thing he will do Saturday is put on a boring performance. He's already made up his mind to get right in Pettis' wheelhouse.
"I'm going out there guns blazing," Guida said. "I'm looking to finish this fight. It's important to finish this and not leave it in the hands of judges. I don't want there to be a big question mark at the end of this fight.
"I expect to win no matter what. The top fighters expect to win -- [former collegiate wrestler] Dan Gable expected to win all his fights; Randy Couture expects to win his fights. All the top athletes expect to win. Michael Jordan, all these guys who are playing in the NBA and NHL, expect to win. They expect to dominate and I expect nothing less from myself."
If Guida and Pettis perform in the cage Saturday night the way Jordan performed on the hardwood, this fight will be one for the ages.
Franklin McNeil covers MMA and boxing for ESPN.com. He also appears regularly on "MMA Live," which airs on ESPN2. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Franklin_McNeil.
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