by Ricardo Mendoza – MMAWeekly.com
The UFC continues to rebuild the lightweight division as two more lightweights make their UFC debuts on Saturday night. First up is Clay Guida, who made himself known earlier this year with a huge upset win over Josh Thomson at the first Strikeforce show. Justin James just recently came into the attention to the MMA public after winning a four-man lightweight tournament at Extreme Challenge 70. Both fighters come out of the Midwest scene, which has recently been producing a high amount of debuting UFC fighters. Except this fight to be a possible show stealer as both fighters posses an aggressive style that should make this a highly competitive and exciting fight.

Clay Guida has a 20-6 record in MMA and trains out of the Hellhouse with his brother Jason Guida. Hr last saw action at WEC 23, where he easily won a lopsided decision over Lion’s Den lightweight Joe Martin. Martin made it competitive for the first round but Guida dominated the rest of the fight with his relentless pace and experience.

He made his Japanese debut in a losing effort as a last minute replacement at the Shooto July 21st show against Yusuke Endo. Guida went for a takedown right off the bat and was caught in a guillotine choke but he escaped. After some stalling on the ground, they made it back to their feet where Guida again went for takedown but was caught in an armbar that forced him to tap in the first round.

Guida failed in his first defense of the Strikefoce Lightweight Championship, losing a decision to Gilbert Melendez in a five round war. Melendez outwrestled and out struck Guida for five rounds in what is easily one of the best fights of the year. Guida made himself known after beating Josh Thomson by decision in a five round war at the first Strikeforce show. He escaped every submission that Thomson put him in and was able to effectively pound Thomson en route to a decision victory. Guida has excellent wrestling and is known for his relentless pace that comes with his excellent cardio.

Justin James has a 13-5 record in MMA and is a freelance fighter out of Omaha, Nebraska. He is coming off winning a four-man lightweight tournament at Extreme Challenge 70. James submitted Lee Gibson with an armbar in the first round to advance to the final, then submitted Clay French with an armbar in the first round to win the tournament. The majority of James’ wins have been by submission with only one of his wins coming by the way of decision. All of his losses have also been by submission to tougher competition like Rich Clementi, Jorge Gurgel, Leonard Garcia and Jason Ireland. James has a Judo background and primarily gets his takedowns from the clinch. He is a decent boxer but seems to be more comfortable on the ground than on the feet. Once on the ground, James is relentless in going for submissions or finishes which is his strength.

This is going to be an excellent fight that should put the fans in frenzy before the main card starts. Guida has had an up and down year but overall he has gotten noticed by the MMA public with his upset win over Josh Thomson earlier this year. James was suppose to face Yves Edwards in his UFC debut but now takes on Guida, who is a much different fighter than Edwards. James has to completely change his strategy for the fight and it’s going to be interesting to see how well James can adjust to the change in opponent. His best chance to win the fight is on the ground, where he can try to submit Guida with some kind of a submission. Other then that I don’t see James knocking Guida out or winning a decision. Guida is going to bring his relentless pace with him and will take this fight to the ground, pound out a decision win over James as I think he has done better against tougher competition then James has in the past.

Prediction: Clay Guida by decision.