Back in 2006 when Clay “The Carpenter” Guida first joined the UFC (33-17), he was the epitome of “tough” back when the word meant something. He was a small lightweight with very little in the way of striking but man he could wrestle. Backed by an unbreakable jaw, bottomless cardio and a refusal to deviate from a simple gameplan, Guida was a perennial top 10 lightweight for the majority of his career.
This is a guy who grinded out Nate Diaz. A guy who forced Rafael Dos Anjos to submit because of a jaw injury. A guy who (temporarily) derailed the Anthony Pettis hype train when the WEC was absorbed by the UFC.
But those are in days long past. Perhaps, because Guida was always a “people’s champ” rather than a legitimate title contender, his catastrophic decline has happened under the radar. His chin has gone from granite to glass which magnifies his lack of boxing; fighters routinely catch him coming in or backing away and knock him down. His body has aged at the same time the average fighter at both lightweight and featherweight has become bigger, faster, taller and harder hitting. He can no longer count on getting his man to the ground once he gets a hold of them.
Guida isn’t just losing to every solid opponent he’s faced recently; he’s gotten waxed.
Tied with Nate Diaz for the most post-fight bonuses in UFC history, Joe Lauzon (27-13) isn’t in a boring fight if he can help it.
Well-rounded and aggressive, Lauzon is a surprisingly hard-hitting boxer/wrestler hybrid. He’ll throw heavy leather until he can get his opponent down at which point his terrific top game takes over. He’s got fantastic ground and pound and an exceptional submission game. That’s if the fight even gets there; Lauzon can floor fighters with a clean hook. His debut in the UFC was a one-punch left hook knockout over the dangerous Jens Pulver.
But Lauzon has an established ceiling and shows no signs of breaking it.
Lauzon hits very hard, but his defense is lacking. Strikers with good head movement can drop him in brawls and his chin isn’t great. The knockout losses to Anthony Pettis and Al Iaquinta are understandable; both are very good strikers. But getting outfought on the feet by Jim Miller on two separate occasions is worrying. He can also be outgrappled as Marcin Held showed in a robbery-decision win for Lauzon.
The fact is that Lauzon isn’t very strong. Like Gegard Mousasi, he can be tired quickly if he’s forced to go strength for strength at a high pace.
If this was happening five or six years ago, I’d be giving the nod to Guida. His high intensity, hard-nosed grappling style would be perfect for tiring Lauzon for a decision. But Lauzon has stayed fairly consistent in terms of physical ability while Guida is a shell of his former self. If Guida can get Lauzon down in the first round and keep him there, he may still win through his cardio. More likely that Lauzon clips him on the way in and sets up a finish.
Lauzon via Submission
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