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Clay Guida feels ‘like a 21-year-old wrecking machine’ after comeback win over Leonardo Santos

Just a week shy of 40 years old, and Clay Guida says he feels like a fighter half his age. Young mindset and veteran grit make for a pretty solid combo.

UFC Fight Night: Guida v Santos Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

Clay Guida stepped into the Octagon for the 32nd time at UFC Vegas 44, and it looks like he’s nowhere near done playing the spoiler.

Guida came back from a tough first round to choke out four-time IBJFF world champion, Leonardo Santos, 1.5 minutes into the second round (watch the finish here). That earned him a $50,000 performance bonus and the distinction of being the first in mixed martial arts (MMA) to tap Santos.

Not bad for a dude about to turn 40 next week. But, it all could have gone the other way after Santos hit Guida with a big body kick and then swarmed him early in the fight. Guida talked about that moment in the UFC Vegas 44 post-fight press conference (watch it here).

“Man, he got me right in the gut with his big ol’ Brazilian foot,” Guida said. “It was funny, it was brutal, it was painful. Lot of emotions going on, but my coaches talked me through it.

“I was laughing, thinking, ‘This is not how this year is supposed to end,’” he continued. “Not in front of the first crowd I’ve been able to fight in front of since 2019, not in front of my parents, coaches, national television on ESPN. It was like ‘Come on, Clay. Get your shcrap together. We stayed calm in there and like I said, I listened to my coaches. I could hear everything clear as a bell and they said ‘He’s breaking, he’s tired. He blew it already and just stay on him.’ And that’s what we did. I had to weather the storm.”

“There’s no such thing as quit. I don’t know the definition of that, don’t know the definition of ‘get tired’ or ‘stop.’ It’s all due to wrestling.”

You’ll notice Guida is always saying, “we” and “us” instead of “I” and “me” because he considers himself an extension of his gym, Team Alpha Male.

“We’ve stumbled in the cage a bunch of times, but I’ve been with them now since 2015 or 2016 and just putting in full camps with them and we continue to improve,” Guida said. “They believe in me, I believe in the system and it’s true: you can teach an old dog new tricks. I feel like a 21-year-old wrecking machine, especially being around guys in the gym like Darren Elkins, Josh Emmett, Cody Garbrandt, Andre Fili ... so many guys I’m probably forgetting names.

“Some of the older guys in the gym that keep defying the odds and keep coming up with big, big wins,” Guida continued. “So, I get to train with them daily and this stable of guys we have ... if I can’t keep up with the young bucks at Team Alpha Male, then I know I’m in trouble. We got the pedigree in the room to just keep getting better.”

As for what’s next, Guida had one suggestion: a rematch against a man he beat at UFC 94 in 2009: Nate Diaz.

“We just want to stay on the gas pedal, stay active, and there’s still one dude out there with our name on him,” Guida said. “I beat him once, I’ll give him another chance. Nate Diaz, I know you’re out there. You can’t run, you can’t hide. I know you’re gonna turn the fight down, you probably won’t even know we want to fight you again. But if you ever want to do it again, buddy, I’ll give you a shot. Let me know.”

Considering Diaz isn’t interested in fighting rookies, maybe he’ll be down with fighting Guida again because he’s the anti-rookie: there’s only four men in UFC with more fights. Will UFC be interested, given Nate is on the last fight of his UFC contract? We have our doubts. But, whoever Guida steps in against next, we’ll be watching with interest.

For complete UFC Vegas 44 results and coverage click here.

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