Clay Guida has been here before ... less than five months ago, actually.
The last man to hold the World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) lightweight title, Anthony Pettis, was lined up to challenge for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) belt shortly after the promotion and its best fighters melted into the 155-pound mix. However, when UFC Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard battled to a draw earlier this year, "Showtime's" automatic title shot went up in smoke.
Rather than sit on the sidelines, he accepted a fight with "The Carpenter," who was riding a three-fight win streak and in the midst of establishing himself as a legitimate division contender behind Jim Miller and Melvin Guillard, among others. Guida was thrilled, saying that he was going to make Pettis pay his dues inside the Octagon just like him.
He did just that, defeating Pettis via unanimous decision at The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 13 Finale and, in the process, opening up the division for other contenders.
Meanwhile, "Smooth" racked up two big wins, including a dominant performance over the aforementioned Miller. Combined with a loss from Guillard just last month at UFC 136 to Joe Lauzon, and the fight tonight (Nov. 12, 2011) between Guida and Henderson at UFC on FOX 1 has emerged as a number one contender eliminator match.
Right back where we started.
Unsurprisingly, Guida's tenor hasn't changed much, remarking that he has fought numerous opponents who are better than Henderson. Perhaps he still feels as though his experience inside the Octagon (this will mark his 15th appearance) will carry him to victory. Or, perhaps, he's not sold on Henderson and his level of competition to date.
That would be a big mistake.
Henderson, 27, is among the most talented up-and-coming fighters in the sport today. He improves each time out and is nearly impossible to finish. Yes, he was the recipient of the now infamous "Showtime Kick," but other than that he has demonstrated that he has what it takes to compete against the best in the business.
Guida has been here before; however, he can't expect the same results. Henderson might be a WEC carry-over, but that's where the similarities between him and Pettis end.
Measure twice, cut once, Clay.
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