Combat sports are not the place to age gracefully, particularly at the highest level of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Nevertheless, Clay Guida will make his return to the Lightweight division opposite Erik Koch later tonight (Sun. June 25, 2017) in the preliminary headliner at UFC Fight Night 112 from inside Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Guida has been fighting the best of the best for the better part of a decade and will have to prove himself once more tonight, which is the reason he’s your “Fighter to Watch.”
Currently in his 14th year as a professional competitor, Guida is still looking to change things up to give himself every possible advantage. That was true for his last bout as well, as Guida made the transition to Sacramento to train full time with Team Alpha Male and switched up his boxing coach. While the move showed some positive results — Guida looked noticeably sharper on his feet and won the first two rounds of his bout standing with top Featherweight prospect Brian Ortega — he was ultimately caught with a fight-finishing knee in the final 20 seconds of the contest.
It has been a rough time for longtime Lightweight veterans and legends of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), a pair of groups to which the former Strikeforce champion belongs. Just last weekend, Takenori Gomi, onetime Lightweight kingpin of PRIDE FC and former foe of “The Carpenter,” lost his fourth bout in a row via first round stoppage. He only landed a grand total of nine total significant strikes in all of those contests combined. Elsewhere on tonight’s card, BJ Penn will attempt to score his first win in about seven years. He is not favored by the odds makers to do so, even against a less accomplished but similarly aged Dennis Siver.
Guida intends to buck the trend.
To give a small dose of insider perspective, Guida has looked great in the gym, performing well against top fighters. Physically, the veteran looks far stronger and generally more healthy back at his home weight class. However, his performance tonight will be the true indicator of whether Clay Guida can return to his past success.
There’s a lot on the line when a veteran loses two-straight bouts, and the UFC has not made it easy for him to bounce back. Erik Koch is a fantastic kickboxer with knockout power and a healthy dose of experience himself; a former top five contender at 145 lbs. and all-around dangerous man. To defeat Koch, Guida will need to showcase both his trademark dogged determination and conditioning, as well as some sharpening of his previous skills.
That’s a lot to ask, but Guida has overcome the odds numerous times in the past.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 101 fight card below, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. ET, and then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 7 p.m. ET, before the main card start time at 9 p.m. ET, also on FOX Sports 1.
Source:: mma mania