The much-anticipated "Fight of the Year" candidate, this was not.
Clay Guida ignored fan expectations and did what was necessary to pull out the "W" last night (June 4, 2011) against former WEC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis in the co-main event of The Ultimate Fighter 13 Finale.
In Guida's last two appearances on TUF Finales, he went toe to toe with his opponents in amazing wars that earned him Fight of the Night awards and had fans and media alike buzzing in losing efforts to both Roger Huerta and Diego Sanchez.
Last night, he was content with his win bonus.
Find out how "The Carpenter" swept the boards 30-27 on all the judges' scorecards after the jump.
In the first minute of the fight, Guida bounced around the cage in his typical fashion, confusing Pettis with his crazy movement. After about 70 seconds of posturing, Pettis finally committed to an attack, a right kick to the thigh and Guida capitalized, catching it, driving forward and putting "Showtime" on his back.
The second Pettis was put on his back, the Milwaukee-based fighter began attacking with a very active bottom game, constantly throwing his legs up looking for triangle chokes and armbars. He also did an excellent job of controlling Guida's wrists and posture to limit "The Carpenter's" ground and pound.
Sadly, Pettis, despite being active off his back, wasn't exactly effective. He was not using his jiu-jitsu to sweep and get back to his feet and the closest he ever got to submitting Guida was right at the end of the second round with an armbar. It was very reminiscent of Josh Neer/Kurt Pellegrino at UFC 101 in that "Showtime's" activity off of his back may have been to his detriment.
The exciting Duke Roufus-trained fighter did have a decent opportunity to land effective strikes after getting to his feet in the second round but he instead chose to try an off-the-cage 360 spinning back kick that only grazed Guida. He couldn't time Guida's movement and would be put on his back just a few seconds later after overcommitting to another big straight right hand.
The third round was more of the same as Pettis, apparently shaken up from Guida's takedowns, couldn't pull the trigger. He allowed Clay to get the better of him standing and again was put on his back. He would have one last opportunity to finish the fight with a 90 seconds left when he reversed a takedown attempt from the Greg Jackson fighter and took his back but he got a little too loose with his hooks and allowed "The Carpenter" to escape out the back door and ride him out until the final horn sounded.
This was a learning experience for Anthony Pettis. There's no doubt after last night's performance that he simply wasn't ready for a title shot against Gray Maynard or Frankie Edgar. That doesn't mean he couldn't still do it someday. The kid is bristling with talent and is definitely a fan pleaser but he needs to continue to improve his takedown defense and his ability to get back to his feet. Having an active guard is nice, but against the top guys in the UFC lightweight division, it's not likely that he'll be able to submit them off his back.
Look for Pettis to get an upper mid-level fighter in his next bout to see exactly where he stands. A fight with Takanori Gomi or Evan Dunham would guarantee fireworks as both fighters are still highly ranked, are coming off of losses and have something to prove.
Clay Guida has been catching some flack for his performance, saying it was "lay and pray" but it was far from it. Guida was relentless with his movement and never allowed Pettis to get comfortable standing.
If a fan or analyst was designing a gameplan for Clay Guida to defeat Anthony Pettis, it would have been exactly what he did: move constantly to confuse "Showtime" standing and then take him down and keep him down whenever he commits to anything significant.
It's not Clay's fault that Pettis has a great defensive guard and didn't allow him to pass or ground and pound much. He took what Pettis gave him and it resulted in an easy clean sweep of the scorecards.
Even though he scored a major win, Clay is still quite a ways from a title shot. He's now won four in a row but that's nothing compared to Jim Miller's seven in a row. Hell, with Nick Diaz now fighting Georges St. Pierre, Gilbert Melendez is also has the possibility of a title shot before Guida as well.
So what do you think Maniacs?
Was Pettis' debut a dud? Can "The Carpenter" be a contender?