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Round Lake fighter Clay Guida hungry for UFC featherweight debut at United Center

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Updated: January 21, 2013 10:46PM

For the first time in his professional career, Clay Guida watches what he eats.

Last month, Guida had lunch with the media to promote his upcoming fight. The longtime lightweight will make his featherweight debut this Saturday in Chicago and a fighter ordering lunch during a weight cut must remain vigilant.

The Caesar salad gets sent back — no Parmesan cheese or dressing, please. Salmon rather than steak. And hold the cheesecake.

“I could tear through that salad in two bites, but I have to be careful what I eat,” Guida said.

Before he never had to watch his diet in his professional career. To drop to the 155-pound limit from his regular 160 pounds was never a big deal for a fighter who has wrestled since Johnsburg High School.

But now, Guida, who will fight Hatsu Hioki on the UFC on Fox 6 card, has been working with a nutritionist beginning this week to drop the weight in a smart way, slowly over the next two months.

Guida hopes the change in weight class will help redefine his career.

After a steady climb up the lightweight ranks, his Nov. 2011 loss to now-champion Benson Henderson denied him a shot at the belt. Then a split decision loss to top-contender Gray Maynard in June forced a reevaluation

“It was one of those things were you have to look at the big picture sometimes” Guida said. “After a couple of chances the UFC has granted, but I think we earned, in number one contender fights, a lot times they don’t give a guy [another] opportunity.

“We were in agreement that it’s time to seek out other weight classes and make a run at the featherweight class.”

A new cast of characters will welcome him into the division. And he and former lightweight champion Frank Edgar will help bolster the 145-pound division with some much-needed star power beside champion Jose Aldo. Guida, 31, hopes the change to a new division will help gain new opportunities and direction in his up-and-down career.

“I love fighting for the fans,” Guida said. “You look at my record, It’s kind of a disappointment. I’ve had 15, 16, 17 fights and I realistically on paper, I should only have one loss. Kenny Florian is the only fight where I went out and fought my fight for the first couple of minutes, then I fought Kenny’s fight and he made me pay for it. … I think every other fight I’ve been in, I’ve had a chance to win.”

In addition to Guida’s fight, flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson will make his first title defense against John Dodson in the main event. Lightweight Donald Cerrone will face Anthony Pettis and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson battles Glover Texieria on the main card. Also, the undercard will feature Chicago fighters Mike Russow and Ricardo Lamas.

Tickets for the United Center event are on sale through

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