Clay Guida wasn't going to let Gray Maynard's camp make an issue of his hair (Getty Images)The similarities between Clay Guida and Gray Maynard are striking: Each are elite wrestlers whose striking has come a long way. Each is coming off a loss to a lightweight champion, Guida to Benson Henderson and Maynard to Frankie Edgar. And each man believes he's destined to regain the belt.
The one difference, though, that Guida believes will carry him to victory over Maynard in their five-round lightweight fight Friday in Atlantic City, N.J., is his tenacity.
"Without a doubt, I think that's going to be in my favor," Guida told Cagewriter. "I've been in fights where I've been down and come back. I am never, ever, going to quit or concede in a fight and I think that's a major advantage for me."
Guida's movement and tenacity are two of his trademarks, but he's also at least as well known for his wild, flowing hairstyle. Maynard's new coaches at the American Kickboxing Academy, but not Maynard himself, complained to the New Jersey commission about it.
Guida agreed to put his hair in cornrows to end any controversy before it began and laughed it off as a non-issue.
"I'm not sure what they were trying to do by complaining about that, but whatever it was, it didn't work," Guida said. "I'm here to fight and not talk about my hair."
Guida knows a win over Maynard, who had a draw and a knockout loss to Edgar in back-to-back title fights last year, will go a long way toward getting him his coveted first title shot.
The UFC has promised Nate Diaz a championship shot against the winner of the rematch between Henderson and Edgar at UFC 150, but Guida told Sherdog Radio he believes an impressive win over Maynard could force the UFC brass to rethink its plans.
If I go out there and beat the brakes off of him and really put it on him, I think the UFC is going to have a hard time denying us. I know Nate Diaz is right up there. Yeah, he won three in a row, but look, Gray won six or seven in a row. He hadn't lost for how many years? … [And] I went on a decent little run there. I won four over a couple of tough guys, former world champs, [Takanori] Gomi in Pride and [Anthony] Pettis in the WEC, and I lost a very, very close fight to Ben Henderson. So it's one of those, it all depends on the way of victory.
The five-round fight figures to work to Guida's advantage. One of the reasons for his popularity is his ability to fight at a frenetic pace pretty much all of the time. The pace often slows in the latter stages of a long fight, but Guida insists that will never happen to him.
He said he's better conditioned now, at 30 years old, than he's ever been.
"Five rounds is tailor-made for me," he said. "When I'm done with three rounds, really, I'm just getting loose and ready to go. I go through a grind every day to get to where I am and you haven't seen anything from me in terms of pace and stamina. The longer this fight goes, people are going to be shocked at the way I can go.
"It's a mindset. I refuse to be tired and I have always vowed to work harder than my opponents. I put myself in the worst possible situations in training and I go and go and go. It makes the fight seem easy by comparison."