ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – Gray Maynard (10-1-1 MMA, 8-1-1 UFC) says he learned plenty in his 2011 fights with Frankie Edgar.
But Clay Guida (29-12 MMA, 9-6 UFC) might have learned even more.
Guida watched Maynard drop Edgar in the opening round of their UFC 125 draw and the UFC 136 rematch – which Maynard would go on to lose in the fourth round. And that told Guida plenty.
"He's got a lot of confidence, a lot of power in his hands, and I'm not going to make the same mistake to stand in front of him," Guida said Wednesdayat Revel Atlantic City, the New Jersey site of his Friday UFC on FX 4 five-round main event with Maynard.
"I expect him to try and take me down and ground-and-pound me, and I expect him to try to take my head off, but we're not going to be there for him. We're going to be staying on the outside and implementing our game plan."
In November, Guida had a four-fight win streak snapped by Benson Henderson at UFC on FOX 1. That fight was a title eliminator, and Henderson went on to win the lightweight belt from Edgar in February.
Henderson and Edgar rematch in August, which continues a recent trend of the 155-pound class being tied up with rematches. But Guida believes a win over Maynard, who spent a year as the No. 2 fighter in the division, puts him squarely in the hunt. Nate Diaz likely gets the Henderson-Edgar winner, but Guida would love to complicate things.
"I believe a finish over Gray gets me right back up there, possibly as No. 1 contender," Guida told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). "(It) keeps us up there in the top two or three. (I lost to) the eventual champion, and Gray lost to the champ the last two years. We're kind of gridlocked up here at the top, which is cool with me."
Maynard may be the more decorated wrestler, but Guida has some wrestling of his own. It was on display in an upset of Anthony Pettis a year ago. Naturally, he went to work on his wrestling to prepare for Maynard.
But he also took a long, hard look at what Henderson was able to do to neutralize the pace that Guida brings.
"I've been making a lot of adjustments in my wrestling – just a different skill set – and just focused on fundamentals," Guida said. "Ben Henderson stopped the scrambles and slowed down the clinch to his pace a little bit, and that was kind of the telltale of that fight."
But more than anything else, his loss to Henderson actually may have given him a confidence boost in a fight that was likely a little closer than a pair of 30-27 scores indicated.
"It's motivated me beyond belief," Guida said. "I'm more driven now in the sport than I was six years ago when I started in the UFC. It shows how close I am to my dream – having that belt. (Losing to Henderson was) a minor setback, but a big win over Gray is going to erase the memory of a loss to the eventual champion.
"I'm more driven now and hungry than I ever have been."
Guida and Maynard on Friday meet in the UFC on FX 4 main event. The main card airs live on FX following prelims on FUEL TV and Facebook.
I really hope Maynard beats Captain Caveman to a pulp. I hope all the training Maynard has done with Nova Uniao and AKA has improved his game to take Guida's soul.