Several European fans feel that as far as the global expansion of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is concerned, they usually get the short end of the stick. That's because fight cards across the pond have in the past lacked the big name stars like Georges St. Pierre or Brock Lesnar. And the last time a title was defended in England was at UFC 80 way back in January 2008.
Next month's card in Birmingham, England, is headlined by Mark Munoz and Chris Leben, a fight that will no doubt be competitive, but lacks the same pizzaz that UFC 137: "St. Pierre vs. Condit" and UFC 139: "Shogun vs. Henderson" command.
When the Octagon rolled into Belfast, northern Ireland, for the first time ever, Griffin and "The Carpenter" gave them a show that they wouldn't soon forget. Title fights? Crossover stars? The two lightweights proved that they aren't necessary to put on a exciting performances that stand the test of time.
Griffin now plies his wares in the featherweight division -- his next fight being at UFC 137 against Bart Palaszewski -- but he had some memorable fights during his stint at 155 pounds, his bout with Guida possibly being the best of them.
Let's take a closer look at the action-packed bout:
It took place in June 2007 when the promotion was already in full swing with its lightweight renaissance after the division was in hibernation for the better part of two years. Fighters like Griffin and Guida complemented other top 155-pound talent like Frankie Edgar and Kenny Florian.
Combined with The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 5 and its all-lightweight cast, the little guys were finally getting their due inside the Octagon. Since the reappearance of the 155-pound division at UFC 58, a fight from the weight class has either won or been in contention for "Fight of the Year" every single time ballots were cast.
And with fights like the one Griffin and Guida had, it shouldn't come as any kind of surprise.
Let's dive into this Northern Ireland slugfest!
The two lightweights circle the center of the Octagon and the first exchange comes half a minute into the fight. "The Carpenter" shoots in and after a scramble, he is able to get a hold of one of Griffin's legs. Balancing like a 13-year old Chinese gymnast, the X-treme Couture fighter keeps himself from getting taken down.
But, while Guida holds onto the leg, the two start trading punches, causing the Irish audience to erupt in applause. You'll never see Ben Rothwell doing something like that.
"The Caveman" grinds his opponent against the cage and lifts him up, but still can't get Griffin on his back. Finally, Guida is able to drop Griffin but finds himself on the business end of a guillotine choke. For nearly a minute, Griffin threatens with the submission until "The Carpenter" is able to pop his head out.
Back on their feet, they begin to grapple and clinch up before Griffin takes Guida's back. Guida then grabs one of his opponent's legs and pulls it between his own, putting Griffin on his back. It's something I had never seen before or since.
Less than a minute remaining in the first and the two separate and begin to exchange. Guida lands a stiff punch that catches Griffin flush. He responds in kind with an uppercut and a head kick that forces "The Carpenter" to shoot in for a takedown.
Griffin opens up the second round with a flurry, but Guida wraps him up and begins to grind him against the cage. He botches a takedown, allowing Griffin to take the dominant position and then return to his feet. It's where Griffin has been find more success whereas "The Caveman" is getting the better of his opponent in the grappling portions of the fight.
The two fighters clinch up and Griffin attempts a suplex, but can't get his opponent completely over. They scramble and Guida is able to secure a deep, deep kneebar. "Tap out" must be a phrase that Griffin never learned because instead of submitting to the career-threatening hold, he begins to wail away at Guida's ribcage with wide looping hooks that echo throughout the arena.
The X-treme Couture fighter is able to get out of the submission, but gives up his back to his opponent. Getting to a vertical base and carrying the weight of Guida on his back, Griffin drops down and slams "The Carpenter's" face against the Octagon mat. Any normal man would have, at the very least, lost the position if not been not knocked out.
But whoever accused Clay Guida of being normal?
Still latched onto Griffin's back with a tight body triangle secured, he lands punches to the head and threatens a rear naked choke until the round ends.
Going into the third and final round, both commentators split the first two rounds between both fighters. It's hard to argue with that belief. Both men are exchanging with nearly the same speed and power they had 10 minutes prior. Both of these men have cardio to spare, it seems.
Ninety seconds in and "The Carpenter" manages to get Griffin to the mat and they end up in a pretzel. Griffin threatens with a heel hook, Guida slams his fist into his opponent's face a couple times. They scramble and eventually Guida ends up in half guard. He lands shoulder strikes and short hammer fists.
Griffin, for his part, throws elbows from his back, knowing the the last minute and a half of the fight could determine who gets a win bonus and who goes home empty-handed.
Less than a minute remaining and "The Carpenter" punishes his opponent with Georges St. Pierre-like knees to the body. The fight ends with Guida on top landing a flurry of ground and pound and then immediately helping his opponent to his feet. "The Carpenter" lifts his arms in the air and runs around the Octagon, while Griffin -- with a dejected look on his face -- makes his way to his corner.
Imagine how shocked each fighter was when Griffin was awarded the split decision.
It's a decision I can't agree with to this day, but it's very indicative of how the talent pool in the lightweight division stacks up against each other. The fights are highly competitive and depending on the day, a decision could go either way.
It's amazing to think we were denied these fights in the UFC for several years. It's even more amazing that some people complain when they are featured at or near the top of fight cards, regardless of their locations across the world.