Not only did Clay Guida catch a lot of heat for his performance at UFC on FX 4 this past Friday night (June 22, 2012), specifically from Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) president Dana White, but Greg Jackson, Guida's head trainer, was caught in the crossfire as well.
It's nothing new for Jackson, who's had to fight off criticism in the past, warranted or not, for instilling game plans who many fans and fighters alike find effective, but not exciting. You have to look no further than UFC 143 where Jackson-trained Carlos Condit defeated heavy favorite Nick Diaz in a welterweight interim title fight. Condit and Jackson found themselves bombarded by critics at every turn, accusing them of robbing fans of what should have been an exciting all-out brawl due to Condit's stick-and-move style.
Regardless of the popular public opinion, in the end, it was "The Natural Born Killer" who walked away that night with the belt and the chance to face 170-pound kingpin Georges St. Pierre.
As discussed before, the opinion fans and critics alike have of Jackson are split down the middle. On one hand, he has often been given the title of the greatest mixed martial arts (MMA) trainer alive with his camp's success and stable of fighters speaking for themselves. UFC champions Jon Jones, the aforementioned St. Pierre and Condit, along with stars such as Donald Cerrone and Leonard Garcia are just a few who spend their time perfecting their skills at Jackson-Winkeljohns training center in New Mexico.
On the other hand, he has been accused of watering down the attacks and the aggressive mindset of what were once exciting fighters, down to cautious and point-seeking athletes.
For Jackson, he simply doesn't feel the need to defend his record and thought process because, as he told Sherdog, it's only the negative stuff that always gets brought to light:
"I didn't even have to do any of that because two fights earlier Cub Swanson did beautifully and got 'Fight of the Night.' When you have a situation like that, when you have a spectacular performance and then you have Clay, who stuck and moved, but he should have stuck a little more than he moved -- that happens. He still got a split decision. He was a 4-1 underdog. Had we done just a little more, I think it would have gone our way. But [some criticism] is obviously just biased because no one's saying, ‘Hey Greg, that was a great game plan with Cub. Way to get the second knockout of his career and Knockout of the Night and look so good.' It's all about the negative stuff. At that point, it doesn't hold any water for me, so I'm all right."
As far as "The Carpenter's" gameplan against "The Bully," Greg says it wasn't exactly executed as he would have liked and reveals the offense was instituted due to Clay's past fights:
"I wanted Clay to, after he drew Gray out, to engage a little bit more, but I think Clay was waiting for him to open up a little bit and he was able to land some combinations when he did that. But one of the things that I think both Clay and I learned is that ... we need to do a little more right after the misses, kind of jumping on him a little bit more. I chalk it up to experience and a learning process, and hopefully we won't be in that situation again where we have such a close decision. Hopefully we'll be able to dominate the next time.
In a lot of those fun, exciting fights (in the past), he ended up on the wrong side of those. He would get dropped or he'd get choked out a lot of times. You have to be able to fight the guy that's in front of you, and Gray is an incredible fighter. ... To just run at that guy and throw caution to the wind and hope you don't get caught with a big punch and choked out again, it's a little silly. You do want to be able to try to do something that maybe favors you a little bit. Now again, we should have engaged a little bit more, and that's just the way the fight went down, but I'm never going to tell my guy, ‘Listen, this guy does everything better than you. I just want you to take all the damage you can until he gets tired of punching you in the face so that everybody's jumping up and down and then maybe you'll win, but maybe you'll just get choked out.' That doesn't seem very smart to me at all. ... I'm always going to be trying to do it smartly. It's got to be an entertaining fight obviously, but at the same time you can't just jump on somebody that's stronger than you, that hits harder than you and has better wrestling than you do."
One can't argue the success that Jackson enjoys as a trainer, along with the rest of his crew, which includes striking Guru Mike Winkeljohn. In the past year, and currently, Jackson's MMA accomplishments are impressive to say the least.
Jon Jones is on a title run the likes of which no one has seen before and John Dodson and Diego Brandao won season 14 of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) in their respective weight classes, bantamweight and featherweight.
Not to mention, he currently has a dilemma that some wouldn't necessarily consider a bad thing as two fighters he trains are currently the two 170-pound champions in the UFC and are (tentatively) scheduled to meet at UFC 154 to crown the single champ in Condit and St. Pierre. Though "GSP's" main camp is Tri-Star in Canada, Jackson does serve as one of his head trainers.
In the end, you'd be hard pressed to disagree with Jackson's' sentiments. He shouldn't have to explain his gameplans or training methods. There's a reason why top fighters flock to the 505 to hone their craft and his track record really does speak for itself.
Perhaps if all the negative things are always brought to the limelight, so should all the positives.
What are your thoughts?