The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 13 Finale went down last night, June 4, 2011, from the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada.
"The Carpenter," an excitable grinder with the strength to go with his relentless pressure based attack and an unmatched work ethic, was out to put a halt to the all this talk of "Showtime," a flashy striker full of finesse, as a top division contender.
That's exactly what he did.
Guida largely dictated the pace, took the fight where he wanted it and soundly defeated Pettis for a unanimous decision victory, one of the biggest of his career.
You wouldn't think so by listening to the fans and a few critics, though. No, they're indignant at the state of wrestling in MMA and have decided to bestow Guida with the dreaded tag of a "lay-n-pray" fighter.
If you're one of these folks, and there are many of you, I beg you to take a step back and reassess exactly what it is you witnessed last night because it sure as hell wasn't just a guy laying on top of another guy.
Let me explain.
First of all, let's define exactly what the widely accepted definition of the term is.
Lay-n-pray: When a fighter uses his wrestling to take down his opponent and, in lieu of attacking and looking for a finish or to cause damage, simply seeks to hold superior position so as to look favorable to the judges, who will theoretically award said fighter enough points to win each round and, ultimately, the fight.
We can all agree on that much, right?
There's no question this strategy is effective and it would be difficult to blame anyone for utilizing it. But this is not the game plan employed by Clay Guida last night.
I fear we may have come to an impasse in mixed martial arts, in which one side will view a strong wrestling based attack as "lay-n-pray" and the other side will forever face an uphill battle against that line of thinking.
Did Guida take Pettis down repeatedly? Yes, that much is certain. But was he constantly looking to damage his opponent and/or go for the finish?
That seems to be the big money question, so let's see if we can answer it.
Simply put, the answer is yes, but since that surely will not suffice, let's delve just a bit deeper.
IronForgesIron.com has their customary post-fight .gifs up and let's take a look at a couple:
This .gif is indicative of exactly how much of the fight played out. Guida, always attacking and pursuing his foe with the utmost vigilance and Pettis, constantly on the defensive while staying aggressive and looking for openings to attack off his back.
At no point do you see Guida looking to simply control Pettis and keep him down without attempting to strike with any meaningful offense of his own.
As you can see at the beginning of the .gif, Pettis scoots his hips out using his legs to create separation in an effort to avoid damage and get back to his feet, where he has the distinct advantage.
While he is doing so, Guida is doing his damnedest to land shots (only two here) that could very well come with a high price. Not only is he staying active on top, he's also leaving an arm out, risking another submission attempt from Pettis.
Nothing lay-n-pray about this, folks.
This is less flattering than the previous .gif but still shows plenty of activity on both sides.
It starts with Guida on top, as per usual, only he's struggling with the fact that Pettis has wrist control and is about to snap off a triangle attempt. At this point, no offense needed, as he's strictly avoiding taking a little nappy.
However, as soon as "The Carpenter" gets loose and has a free hand to do so, he attacks with a winging left. Directly after, he sits in full guard for a grand total of maybe five or six seconds before attempting to improve his position by passing to half guard.
Pettis, slick in his timing and wasting very little movement, sees an opportunity to attempt another triangle choke, and throws his legs up, halting Guida's attempted pass.
In the face of this relentless attack, Guida gets out, postures up and looks to land a big overhand right.
He almost pays for it, too, as again "Showtime" snatches that arm and gets as much torque as he can before his speedy opponent squirms his way out.
Again, I must ask: how are you calling Guida "Clay-n-Pray" after watching this fight?
Perhaps the criticism that baffles me the most is the charge that "all Clay did was throw shoulder shrugs while he was laying on him!"
What's funny is this is actually the best argument you could make against Clay Guida being a "lay-n-pray" fighter.
Instead of just sitting in Pettis's guard, struggling to gain control of his own wrists (Pettis has a tongan death grip, you see), Guida was mounting the only offense he could at that time -- shoulder strikes ... or bumps, or shrugs, whatever you want to call them.
He was literally bumping his shoulder into Pettis so as to stay busy. Is that something a "lay-n-pray" fighter would do?
No, it is not. Not in the slightest. Did those bumps do any damage? Of course not. But did we lambast Chael Sonnen for his pittar patter punches that did absolutely no damage to Anderson Silva while they were tangling at UFC 117?
Of course not. Sonnen was lauded for his incredible rate of strikes, pay no mind to how effective they actually were. So why is Guida suddenly lightweight public enemy numbeo uno?
It seems he's a victim of timing and circumstance more than anything else. He's being unfairly saddled with an unflattering reputation based solely on the fact that the majority of folks watching last night wanted him to lose.
It's easy to get behind a guy who throws kicks like this in fights with so much at stake. It's refreshing to see such innovation in a sport dominated by men like Guida, lesser talents but more workman like in their approach.
When it comes down to it, Guida should not be made to suffer for the sins of Pettis. He should also not fall victim to transference of anger by those that didn't see their desired outcome.
You're not upset because he "layed-n-prayed" his way to victory. You're upset because the guy that did this was barely given the chance to do it again.
Prove me wrong ... if you can.