Clay Guida needed a change.
He could always get on the verge of being in the mix of title contenders at lightweight, but every time he earned a fight to get himself a potential shot at the belt, he was just a little bit too small or was outworked.
Considering the pace he usually pushes in fights, that seemed more like a problem with his overall size than anything else.
Thus, after losing consecutive decisions to top five ranked lightweights Ben Henderson and Gray Maynard, "The Carpenter" decided to make the cut down to 145 pounds and test his mettle in the featherweight division.
Guida will get an immediate litmus test on Saturday night (Jan. 26, 2013) when he battles former number two ranked featherweight Hatsu Hioki on the UFC on Fox 6 preliminary card.
The Greg Jackson-trained fighter spoke with MMAmania.com about making the drop down to featherweight, winning while still being entertaining and what he expects against opponent Hatsu Hioki this weekend in this exclusive interview.
Check it out:
Clay Guida: (laughs) Nah, it's actually fortunate to not hear anything. At least not yet. The hair is here to stay as of right now.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Will the hair be back to normal or did you like it braided?
Clay Guida: Hell no. I think you can answer that one on your own. It'll be back to normal.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Let's start with the drop to 145. Your biggest advantages at lightweight were your speed, your conditioning and the pace you could push in fights. Do you think you'll still have those advantages against lighter, quicker fighters in the featherweight division or will it be evened out now?
Clay Guida: I plan on having even more energy with the diet I've been following, the George Lockheart diet. I expect to be quicker, stronger, faster, have more recovery time at 145 than I even did at 155. The best is yet to come. I'm really excited about the transformation I've made.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): In your last fight against Gray Maynard, the fans turned on you a bit. That's not something you're used to, so did that affect you at all once the fight was over? Did that get to you?
Clay Guida: You know what? I don't put my time into uneducated fans in that small arena. I believe they were there for a good time and they didn't get the main event they wanted, which was a knock-em-out, drag-it-out brawl. They weren't educated enough to see what following a strategy and what a gameplan was. The judges decision was swayed by that. It didn't bother me for a second. It was a learning experience and you can expect a much more in-your-face fight on Saturday night.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You mentioned it was a learning experience, even though you believe you were following a gameplan and it was uneducated fans. What did you learn from the experience?
Clay Guida: I just need to go out there and get more physical with my fights. I'm not a member of the media, I'm not one of the people in the crowd. If I do all that's in my power and I go out and fight every fight and train every session like it's my last, that's what I need to do. I need to fight like it could be my last time because it very well possibly could be.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): There's something that I've noticed, there's a pattern throughout your UFC career. You get in all these epic wars that are "Fight of the Year" worthy but whenever you get in those fights, you wind up on the losing end of a decision. It's the fights where you're more dominant with your wrestling or your pressure that you win. Is that something that you've noticed too and you need to change? Is there a way for you to get those "Fight of the Year"-worthy bouts and still come out on the winning end?
Clay Guida: That's a good question. I've had four main events and we've only won one of them against Anthony Pettis and even that one didn't have the crowd on its feet. I am one punch, one kick, one takedown away from winning a fight in those battles and I just need to land those blows go even harder.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): What do you think of Hatsu Hioki as an opponent? When he was signed to the UFC, he had a lot of hype behind him, but other than a couple rounds in Japan, he hasn't really shown everything that people were expecting yet.
Clay Guida: Well Saturday night it won't be time for him to start showing that. He's coming into hostile territory and I'm gonna impose my gameplan and show him what a well-rounded fighter looks like.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I've noticed that your fighting style and your skill-set is very similar to Ricardo Lamas, who just handed Hioki a loss. Did you take anything away from what he was able to do to Hioki and do you feel you can even ramp that up a notch?
Clay Guida: Absolutely. I definitely have a similar style compared to Ricardo. I think I push a higher pace and I have a very similar skill-set. I took a lot of positives and negatives from that film and we're going to see a positive outcome on Saturday.