Round Lake fighter Clay Guida never feels alone in UFC Octagon
BY JOE FERNANDEZ email@example.com August 30, 2013 7:21PM
Exciting fan favorite Clay Guida needn’t fret about being unemployed, UFC president Dana White says. | Josh Hedges~Getty Images
Updated: August 30, 2013 7:52PM
For a fighter who is known for his frenetic pace and wild, late-80s-lead-guitarist-style hair, Clay Guida exudes a calmness and tranquil spirit unlike his image in the cage.
The Round Lake product will see his most dangerous test at his new weight of 145 pounds on Saturday when he faces perpetual contender Chad Mendes at UFC 164 in Milwaukee’s BMO Harris Bradley Center. Like his January victory at the United Center in his featherweight debut, he’ll have some of that hometown pressure as many family and friends will make the trip to see their guy win. Wait, pressure? Nah, Guida loves the company.
“That’s how the Guida mafia gets down,” the 31-year-old said with a smile. “I’m very lucky to have my family and friends.”
And they’re lucky to have him. Under those long curls and tattooed frame, lies a big heart. As the Johnsburg graduate lives in an RV on an Albuquerque Indian reservation while he trains for his fights, his parents live in a new home in Volo — purchased by their son.
“He said to me ‘mom, dad can’t take care of the house anymore, I want you guys to enjoy life. I’m going to buy you a town home,” Clay’s mom, Debbie Guida said. “My daughter has two kids, my other son has a daughter — Clay opened up college funds for them. He sees that everyone is struggling and he’s always been like this.”
“The Guida mafia,” which is headed by Debbie, and Clay’s retired carpenter father Chuck, has seen just about all of Clay’s 43 professional fights in person — except for a UFC event in Ireland because Debbie couldn’t find anyone who would fly ‘across the world’ with her. Though the always energetic Clay is known for keeping cool before a fight, that trait does not run in the family.
“I get queasy before he fights,” Debbie said. “It’s extremely tough. When he fought in Vegas last time, my husband and I are not gamblers, but I played $20 in the penny slots just to take my mind off his fight. I broke down and cried right at the machine. People were coming over thinking I lost all my money.”
Understandably, it can be very difficult for a mother watching her boy engage in hand-to-hand combat — even if he is a highly-trained professional. And when it’s actually fight time, Debbie experiences the punishment as well.
“I feel like someone is choking me,” she added. “You just hope he doesn’t get hurt and you want it to be quick. I know how hard he trains and how prepared he is, but he’ll always be my baby.”
After a run of six straight victories in the UFC, Mendes lost to unstoppable UFC featherweight title holder Jose Aldo in the champ’s home country of Brazil. Since then, the 14-1 Mendes has been on a brilliant tear of three consecutive first-round knockouts. “Money” Mendes, originally “Money Shot” Mendes because of his perfectly-timed “shot” or wrestling takedown, according to his training partner Urijah Faber, has improved his striking immensely due in large part to the January arrival of respected striking coach Duane “Bang” Ludwig to Mendes’ Alpha Male gym in Sacramento.
But the 30-13 Guida, who defeated Hatsu Hioki in his last fight, isn’t impressed.
“I’m not worried about his right hand, I have a right hand too,” Guida said with a laugh. “And you know what, I have a left hand too. It’s about what I’m going to do, not what he’s going to do. I’m aware of his tools. The last guy I beat had two hands too.”
As for a prediction, Debbie is all over that one:
“Clay came home this week to watch the UFC fight on Wednesday with me and I turned to him and said ‘Clay, I’m going to tell you something I dreamt last week; I feel in my heart that you are going to knock this kid out.’ He turned to me and said ‘mom, I feel the same way.’”
Clay would be one step closer to a title shot if dreams do in fact come true.