Maynard remains atop the lightweight lockjam after the win.
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Like it or not, one of the main keys in the game of fighting is to incur as little damage as possible, especially when you have an opponent who is known for his heavy hands. That exact situation is what Clay Guida (29-10) faced on Friday night in the main event of UFC on FX 4 at Revel in Atlantic City, and he in turn used a game plan revolving around constant movement to avoid the hard strikes of two-time title challenger Gray Maynard (12-1-1).
"I thought Guida was coming to fight. His stuff got old in there,” a frustrated Maynard said of Guida’s strategy to stay on the move. “I wanted to prove to people that I can do it. I came to fight tonight. I thought I won that fight fair and square, and it wasn't a question. I want the belt back. I want to fight Edgar."
Of course, Edgar is a reference to former UFC Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar, whom twice defended his title against Maynard. The first defense was a draw while Edgar stopped him the second time around. That last bout actually marked the third time the duo had met in the Octagon, with Maynard winning their first contest in 2008.
“A little bit more movement, if I would’ve landed more strikes, I would’ve gotten the nod,” Guida stated after his fight with Maynard. “We stuck to our game plan. We were unpredictable. He’s a big, heavy puncher, man. The guy hits hard. The guy punches holes in walls for practice, I’m sure. I didn’t want my head to be one of those, you know?”
Something you will always get from Guida is great fitness and a never-ending motor, and that aspect of his game is what he used to try and keep out of the range of the powerful hands of Maynard. From the first to final bell, his feet were constantly switching off the pivot, and he coupled that pace with deceptive head movement to make himself an increasingly difficult target to hit. As is usually the case, he persistently changed levels, which made his angles confusing for Maynard to anticipate.
The capacity crowd at Revel may have grown tiresome of Guida’s game plan over the five rounds of action, but the fact of the matter is he worked his strategy exactly how his corner wanted it performed. Maynard tried to walk down the New Mexico native, but the rapid movement of his opposition oftentimes left him swinging at air in the early going. Guida threw his lead jab when he could find the opening before ducking out of confrontation, and he bloodied the nose of Maynard in the opening frame as well. Two rounds into this fight, his game plan was clearly working because Maynard was visually frustrated and three judges gave Guida both frames on the score cards.
In the third round, Maynard started to stalk at a quicker pace, dialing up his inner Diaz brother by throwing his hands at his side to lure in Guida to a wild exchange. Also, what was at first a pro-Guida crowd had seemingly switched to his side and began chanting his name. Known for his wrestling, Maynard surprisingly did not really shoot for a takedown as many times as one would expect, and he was mostly blocked when he did make attempts. However, the fourth frame saw pretty much the lone ground action after Maynard took it to the canvas and was able to slap on a tight guillotine choke from his back. Guida then responded by picking Maynard up from his knees and slamming him until the hold was broken.
When the bell rang to start the final frame, Maynard really looked to bring the pressure to Guida, but he was met early with a side kick to the chin that Guida followed up with a nice one-two combination with his hands. He then slipped out and continued to grind around the outside of the Octagon, still preventing himself from much vulnerability. Maynard became increasingly frustrated in the fifth round, and he was able to tighten the gap right after a timidity warning was issued to Guida by referee Dan Miragliotta. After that citation, Maynard closed down on the fence, leaning on his opponent and dealing some hard knees. Guida did eventually break loose from the danger, but the exchange was enough for Maynard to take the deciding frame.
With the five rounds in the books, the cageside judges would be needed, and Maynard achieved the victory after receiving a split decision in his favor (48-47x2, 47-48).
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