Clay Guida's 29-13 record marks him for little more than a journeyman, but his output since 2009 suggests he's primed to challenge for UFC gold at long last.
Between 2009 and 2012, Guida amassed a 5-4 record in the UFC lightweight division. Pretty ordinary, I know. But a look at "The Carpenter's" competition during that period reveals why his impending drop to 145 pounds could produce big results in 2013.
Over his past nine contests, Guida has defeated Nate Diaz, Shannon Gugerty, Rafael Dos Anjos, Takanori Gomi and Anthony Pettis.
His losses during that time have come against Diego Sanchez, Kenny Florian, Ben Henderson and Gray Maynard. That's a formidable list even if the Maynard scrap was ugly, especially considering each fighter on it either earned a title shot with their win over Guida or entered their fight with him coming off a championship bout.
That not only means Guida has faced a gauntlet of the absolute best the UFC's toughest division has to offer, but he's also taken on the best of the best while each opponent was at or near the zenith of his career.
At 145 pounds, there is nothing Guida hasn't seen. The top of the division is similarly talented to lightweight, but it is considerably less deep. That means a loss to one of the division's best at the pinnacle of his career doesn't mean a trip to the back of the line. It just means a minor setback.
And minor setbacks are something that—at this point—cannot stop Guida from getting a UFC title shot.
Can you see Erik Koch, Frankie Edgar, Chad Mendes, Ricardo Lamas, Cub Swanson, Hatsu Hioki, Dustin Poirier and Chan Sung Jung beating Guida? Potentially, right? But can you see that lot running through him and consistently keeping him out of the win column? Probably not.
Not when he's used to bigger but equally talented guys like Maynard and Henderson. And not when his wrestling will standout more at 145 pounds where fewer wrestlers dwell than at lightweight.
The experience Guida has amassed against the cream of the crop at 155, his newly found size advantage and his powerful, relentless wrestling attack make him a legitimate threat in his new featherweight home.
Whether or not he can dethrone the likes of Jose Aldo is questionable. But there is no question that he fits right in with the division's elite. There is also little question that he will earn a title shot.
2013 will be a big year for Guida as he looks to make his mark at 145 pounds. And this year, expect his record to more aptly reflect the level he has been competing at since 2009.
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