Exciting Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) featherweights Clay Guida and Tatsuya Kawajiri faced off in the co-main event bout of UFC Fight Night 39 on Friday (April 11, 2014) from Du Arena on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE).
See full results and play-by-play here.
Last seen suffering his first-ever technical knockout loss to No. 1-ranked featherweight Chad Mendes at UFC 164, fan favorite Clay Guida had his back against the wall heading into the bout after losses in three of his last four. Still ranked at No. 9, Guida needed a return to his normally aggressive self after drawing criticism for recent gameplans.
Japanese sensation Kawajiri enjoyed the complete opposite, having won six straight bouts after losing to Strikeforce champion Gilbert Melendez in April 2011. "Crusher" made his Octagon debut at January's UFC Fight Night 34, submitting prospect Sean Soriano. He met a big step up in competition in Guida.
Ultimately, it was "Carpenter" who prevailed with in a "Fight of the Night"-winning bout. Let's take a look back at Guida's workmanlike effort.
Guida landed a big right to start the fight, and Kawajiri went for a spinning backfist. Guida rocked "Crusher" with a massive right hand, taking his back in an attempt to finish the fight early. Kawajiri reversed to look for an armbar, but Guida got out to blast Kawajiri with knees to the thigh.
Guida lifted Kawajiri for a huge slam, and "Crusher" held onto a kimura attempt. The fighters broke and Guida landed a few punches, but Kawajiri scored a big takedown of his own, only to see Guida go for the kimura as an exciting first round came to its conclusion.
In the second round, Guida sprawled a takedown to throw some blows, shooting in for a single leg of his own. He got the fight to the ground, but Kawajiri quickly got up to look for the kimura. "Carpenter" continued to push the pace, scoring another big takedown as the frenetic pace pushed on.
Kawajiri nearly had his coveted kimura locked on, but Guida rolled through to smother him against the cage. More knees battered Kawajiri's legs. "Crusher" went for a reverse triangle choke, but Guida reversed to land some short punches from the back. The round finished with Guida going for one more big lift.
The final round began with Kawajiri missing a takedown and Guida looking for a front headlock. "Carpenter" landed some elbows to the head as the action slowed against the cage. The fight went back to the feet with Guida throwing a left hook. Kawajiri looked a bit tired, but he landed a knee to the body. Guida took "Crusher's" back, and then slammed him to the mat to land in his guard.
Kawajiri rolled for an ankle lock that never materialized, and Guida ended the co-main event with a few knees to "Crusher's" body.
Guida took home a unanimous decision, winning all three rounds on each judge's scorecard. The No. 9-ranked "Carpenter" is set for a solid bout, and he quickly called out both injured featherweight Conor McGregor and former lightweight foe Josh Thomson.
Although McGregor has been linked to a July 19 bout with Cole Miller in Dublin, a fight with Guida would be huge. It's unknown if "Notorious" is truly ready for such a task, however.
Dustin Poirier will face Akira Corassani at next Wednesday's (April 16 2014) The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Nations" Finale. If "Diamond" wins, he would make another great opponent for Guida.
Kawajiri showed a ton of toughness in the loss, repeatedly going for submissions in the face of adversity. However, he couldn't quite find an answer for Guida's insane pace, succumbing to several takedown attempts and never maintaining an advantageous position.
He's not in the best position right now after losing to the No. 9-ranked contender. It most likely means he can't defeat the rest of the Top 10, and there are some very tough contenders near the top of the UFC 145-pound division. He'll benefit from a step down in competition for his next fight, but time is running out for "Crusher" to make a legitimate UFC title run.
Clay Guida got back on the horse by defeating a very tough veteran in Tatsuya Kawajiri. Will he get the high-profile bout with Conor McGregor or Josh Thomson that he called for in Abu Dhabi?