Clay Guida and Tatsuya Kawajiri are both targeting a UFC featherweight title fight, and they showed how badly they wanted it from the opening bell of their UFC Fight Night Abu Dhabi bout at du Arena on Friday on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi.
Guida immediately rushed towards Kawajiri, who wasn’t shy about opening fire. The Crusher missed with a spinning backfist and Guida dropped him with a counter punch. Guida couldn’t capitalize, however, and they returned to their feet with a wild set of exchanges throughout the remainder of the opening stanza, both men going after Kimuras and scoring high-profile takedowns.
They immediately stormed each other again to start the second round, but it was Guida that secured a couple early takedowns in the round. Kawajiri continued to pursue the Kimura, but Guida scored a third takedown by mid-round, continuously rolling out of Kawajiri’s shoulder lock attempts.
Guida kept after the takedowns, while Kawajiri pursued submissions. It remained high-paced with neither fighter giving an inch, although Guida was likely edging ahead by the end of round two by constantly putting Kawajiri on the mat.
Guida bucked the takedowns to start the final round, opening with a head kick and a left hook, then landed several more punches, forcing Kawajiri to take a shot at a takedown. Guida, however, caught him in a front headlock and pulled him once again to the canvas.
The pace slowed as Kawajiri doggedly pursued a single-leg takedown for a couple of minutes, but Guida defended well and returned the fight to the feet. Kawajiri looked exhausted at this point, while Guida kept up his Energizer Bunny pace. They clinched up briefly, but Guida scooped Kawajiri and slammed him to the canvas. Guida’s head got caught deep in a guillotine on the way down, but he quickly slipped about and into a technical grappling exchange to finish the fight.
This one went the full 15 minutes, but there was no want for action, as neither Guida nor Kawajiri relented. In the end, however, it was Guida who scored a unanimous decision victory over the legendary Japanese fighter.
Typically not one to call out other fighters, Guida bucked his norm on Friday declaring himself ready for a fight at his current home at featherweight or in a move back up to lightweight.
“The UFC is protecting this leprechaun. I don’t call anybody out, but once you heal up, you want to fight a real man,” Guida offered in reference to brash Irishman Conor McGregor. But he wasn’t done there.
“I got some unfinished business sup at lightweight, too,” he continued. “I feel comfortable at either weight. Josh Thomson, we have some history.
“Joe Silva, Sean Shelby, put me wherever.”