UFC on FX4 went down on Friday night. Everything went well for the most part. At least until the main event began. Clay “The Carpenter” Guida entered the octagon first. Nothing seemed different in his demeanor and everyone cheered as he bobbed and weaved down the aisle, full of animalistic energy and visible aggression. Gray “The Bully” Maynard walked in next in his usual somber yet intense manner which has always preceded his dominant performances in the past. Both fighters came out looking ready to brawl, a trademark of both men in their long and mostly successful careers.
Once the fight began Clay bobbed and weaved in front of Gray, staying just outside the pocket, just far enough away to avoid getting hit. Everyone was chanting Guida’s name as he moved out of reach around the cage. After a couple rounds, the crowd changed sides and began a chanting frenzy for Maynard.
The fight ended up going five rounds with Gray chasing Clay around the cage in an effort to engage, while Guida seemed content to stay just outside of Maynard’s reach and at times, flat out run in the opposite direction. At one point in a fit of frustration, Gray put his hands down and walked toward Clay with his middle finger raised in his opponent’s face. He even allowed Clay to hit him in the face a couple times before being forced to sprawl while Clay decided to shoot for a takedown even though his opponent had his guard down and was giving him the option to punch him freely in the face. “Personally I don’t act like that, but it was a fight and I was pissed off. I’m a human too and get mad. I was here to work. Let’s work,” said a frustrated Gray Maynard in the post-fight press conference.
After the fight, the UFC fight Matrix showed a close statistical lean towards Maynard, who landed a few more solid punches and was the only one to score a takedown and attempt the only two recorded submission attempts. “It took me two rounds just to know, like alright, I think this guy’s gonna do this the whole fight,” said Maynard.
One of the judges actually awarded Clay with the win. Fortunately for the sport and Gray’s sanity, he was given the nod by the other two and was awarded the win by split decision. “That fight sucked … No one can win or lose a fight when a guy is running around in circles. He was literally running,” said Dana White in the post-fight press conference.
Clay not only believed his performance was effective, he also felt he should have won the fight. “I think if I had a little more movement and if I landed a few more strikes I would have got the nod. We stuck to our game plan. We were unpredictable,” said Guida in the post-fight press conference. He went on to criticize the judging which has honestly been a problem in the sport. “I think Mixed Martial Arts is the guy who gets hit the least. Our plan was to not sit in the pocket with [Gray].”
After the fight I watched Dana White’s Vlog on YouTube. It has always been interesting to watch both fighters after they leave the cage and then walk back to a hallway where the winner and loser sit with only a curtain in between them while they are checked by a doctor and relieved of their gloves. It’s a fairly intimate setting and feels surreal as superstars become simple men as if they are taking off their uniform and putting their tools away after a long day on the job. Some of them are sensitive to the others presence and don’t celebrate openly, while others seem to care less and rejoice for the win.
I have a new respect for fighters after watching this process. When one man loses, his emotional and physical distress is palpable. Some of them cry or yell or tell their trainer they are failures. Fighters in these situations seem momentarily confused with their place in life. Maybe they are fighting back tears or a desire to punch the wall or even themselves.
When Gray and Clay were seated next to each other, Clay and his camp decided to push the curtain back and argue with Gray. Clay legitimately was mad about Gray pulling his hair in the fight. Mac Danzig who was helping Gray with his gloves kept asking Clay’s camp to remain professional but they ignored him initially as one of Clay’s guys told Gray, “Shut the F*** up!” He backed off when Mac Danzig gave him an incredulous look though. At the end it didn’t matter that Danzig and Maynard were trying to convince Guida and his camp to calm down. It took someone in a suit, who worked for the venue I’m assuming, to guide them away from the area. It didn’t seem like the biggest deal in the end. I’m not sure if it’s a good idea to put the fighters in that situation to begin with.
Guida complimented Gray for his win in a very gracious manner after the fight. “My hats off to Gray. He’s an athlete and a wrestler I’ve always looked up to,” said Guida. At one point Gray cut in to Guida’s gracious speech to say jokingly that he felt bad for what he did in the cage after hearing Clay’s praises. Oddly enough, Clay’s dad cut Gray off from the crowd to yell, “He’s got the floor!”
I think that’s what did it for me. I don’t know if Guida’s family and friends are a bunch of classless meat heads but that was completely uncalled for. Guida responded right away to his father by saying, “Take it easy dad.” Luckily that ended the night of embarrassment for the Guida camp.
Even though Clay’s performance was embarrassing for the UFC and ultimately a letdown for the fans, he’s still a great fighter and shouldn’t be judged too harshly for one lack luster performance. One reporter wanted to know if this fight would affect Clay’s career with the UFC. “No. I mean Clay Guida is a warrior. The guy has fought for us a zillion times. He’s put on some of the best fights ever in UFC history,” said Dana.