There’s little doubt left in anyone’s mind that the winner of the fight this weekend between Clay Guida and Benson Henderson should get the next shot at UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar.
Now that Edgar has been confirmed as a headliner for the UFC’s return to Japan in February, the winner of this weekend’s fight makes the most sense to fill the slot as challenger.
Nothing is ever 100-percent, however, until UFC president Dana White says it’s a done deal, so to make sure he leaves a lasting impression, Clay Guida plans to earn that title shot on Saturday night.
“This is just going to legitimize the No. 1 contender. I believe I put my time in and beating Ben Henderson that’s what we’re here to do. We’re here to beat the best guys. To get in there and earn that title shot. Anthony Pettis is still very young in the sport, and I think Ben Henderson is still young in the sport, even though he’s fought a lot of top competition in the WEC and some good competition in the UFC,” Guida told MMAWeekly Radio prior to the fight.
“This is going to legitimize my shot so I’m going to go out there and put on a very strong, dominating performance, and I don’t think they can keep us from the title.”
Guida has never backed down from a challenge and from day one in the UFC, he’s faced some of the stiffest competition the promotion could throw at him.
With a workman like spirit, Guida has faced some ups and downs in his UFC career, but now on the cusp of possibly extending his four fight win streak to five, he’s ready to put on the performance worthy of earning a title shot.
“I think depending on how the fight goes, if I don’t let it go to the judges, and I believe the UFC knows we’re long overdue for a shot,” said Guida. “We beat some tough guys, this will be our toughest test yet, and we come out on top in dominating fashion, we get a finish or something like that, I say we’re the frontrunner.”
If you notice, everything Guida says comes along with a “we” or an “us” attached to it. Guida never likes to look at himself as a single entity fighting in the cage or earning a title shot. It all comes back to the team for Guida, a family he’s found at Greg Jackson’s school in New Mexico.
Jackson, along with fellow head coach Mike Winkeljohn, has sculpted Guida into a fine-tuned machine over his last few fights. Gone are the days where he simply went guns blazing into the cage. Guida now fights smart and controlled, but does occasionally let the beast out in the Octagon.
It’s that very strategy that Guida believes has propelled him to this point, and what will carry him to a shot at the UFC lightweight title.
“Just great game planning. We’re under the watchful eye of Mike Winkeljohn and Greg Jackson. I have the best training partners in the country and the mixed martial arts world. Honestly, I can say that with true belief, just more confidence, I’ve re-dedicated myself as a student of the game. I’m more passionate now for the sport than I was five years ago,” Guida stated.
“The peak is yet to come. This fight on Nov. 12 is only going to make us better and get us closer to our title shot. I think every fight we improve and there’s always room for adjustments, there’s always room for different improvements and things like that.”
The day will come, however, when Guida finally reaches his full potential. When that happens, he warns the UFC lightweight division to watch out. He especially sends that warning to Ben Henderson for their fight Saturday night.
“We always peak on fight night, but there’s a long way to come before I’m that wrecking machine that I want to be,” said Guida.
“We’re really going to see who is the next No. 1 contender.”