by Tom Hamlin – MMAWeekly.com
The Johnsburg, Ill., native is up at six a.m. in the frigid cold to clear the driveway of the home he still lives in with his family. The small town – or village, as its website declares – is five minutes from the Wisconsin border and socked in with six feet of powder. It’s his main chore. Dishes are not his thing.
“I’m the first one downstairs watching the football game,” he laughs.
Guida’s life closely resembles the image he’s cultivated as a workman in the sport of MMA. He travels between three different gyms for training, driving as much as two hours to roll at Gilbert Bros. Grappling in Tinley Park. From an early age, he’s liked the grind.
“It’s all about the journey, man,” says the 27-year-old. “Putting in the time behind the wheel. I’m very self motivated.”
In his early 20s, Guida signed up to work on a commercial fishing trawler in Alaska, dragging a net along the bottom of the Bering Sea
for five and a half months.
“I heard there was hard work, and a little money to be made,” he says. “Little did I know it would be the hardest thing I’d ever done. Ten times my hardest title fight. A 25-minute fight couldn’t hold a stick to it.”
Guida worked 18 to 20 hours a day processing fish below decks as waves sometimes 30 feet high crashed over the boat. “Probably the most putrid smell you could ever imagine,” he says. It was between 15 and 20 degrees below zero every day.
“It was miserable, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” he says. “That’s an experience I think every male should have.”
Guida has to laugh a little bit when he sees the contestants of “The Ultimate Fighter” go stir crazy in the hills of Las Vegas. Try spending your every moment with smelly guys in a quarter of the space in the middle of the ocean for five and a half months.
“I’d be surprised if two of them got through it,” he says.
His upcoming fight with Nate Diaz at UFC 94 is not just about climbing the lightweight ladder – it’s about a difference in values.
“I’m going to enjoy this one more than any of my other fights, man,” he says. “He’s got a style all his own. I love watching him fight, but he gets in there and brings a little chip on his shoulder. I’m going to knock it right off his shoulder.”
The two fought on the same card last September, when Diaz stormed off with his brother Nick – cursing at UFC officials – during the post-fight press conference. Guida was sitting beside him when it happened, and it wasn’t hard to tell how he felt when he looked at MMAWeekly.com’s camera.
“That look described it,” says Guida. “I want to be remembered for my victories, not my attitude.”
He isn’t threatened by Diaz’s submission ability, which has won Diaz all but one of his fights.
“I don’t see any other strength that he has over me,” he explains. “He’s got good hands, (but) there’s no power in them. He tends to more frustrate people with pawing at them. His height, obviously, I’ve fought tall guys before, I’m not too worried about it. He’s a southpaw; we’ve been working with southpaw fighters. His takedowns are non-existent; his takedown defense is even worse than his takedowns. He works out with tough guys. To me, that’s his only asset, besides his submissions.”
Guida sees his work ethic as his main advantage. He believes he can power his way through any tough situations with the brash fighter.
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On Saturday, he wants to teach Diaz a lesson in manners. “From the caveman book, man,” he laughs. “It’s going to be fun. I can’t wait.”