Anthony Pettis is dangerous from a vast range on the feet. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Anthony Pettis vs. Clay Guida
The Matchup: A nice contrast in styles here, as the stylish and dynamic Pettis takes on Guida, the ultimate blue-collar fighter with a hardhat approach to every match. Guida will probably never make anyone’s highlight reel for his standup or suffocating style, but it remains one of the most effective approaches in the game.
Backed by unreal cardio and the ability to push a breakneck pace, Guida sets the tone from the jump, looking to wear out opponents through the sheer entropy of his attack. Pettis’ classical kickboxing and constantly improving wrestling make him an exceptionally talented fighter, and the loss of a title shot with the Frankie Edgar-Gray Maynard trilogy being ever-delayed should not be a distraction. He has his hands full with what will be, quite likely, the fight of his life.
Pettis’ counter wrestling and the ability to keep Guida at range are pivotal. While Guida’s standup is pretty much a functional tool to force clinches and tie-ups, he fights within the envelope. He does not try to do too much, outside of busy head movement, quick punches and, when the moment is right, closing the gap hard.
Pettis has to use angles and mix up his attacks to keep Guida guessing -- and taking damage. Unless “Showtime” scores an early stoppage -- which would be a huge achievement -- it seems likely at some point that this gets into a down-and-dirty battle against the cage and on the mat. That is where Guida makes his money, pressuring opponents and keeping a dominant position while wearing them down with strikes and constant grappling. Pettis’ counter wrestling and athleticism make his jiu-jitsu an overlooked skillset, but his sweeps and submission setups are top-notch. It is really a matter of who will stay a move ahead in the grappling battle.
Over a three-round fight, Pettis should have just enough chances to pull out the win. It is critical that he does not get suffocated early, which is what Guida looks to do every time out. Pettis’ striking is as technically sound as any of the top lightweights, but he will have a hell of a fight on his hands if Guida can tie up with him.
This is a 50-50 bout, but over the course of 15 minutes, Pettis has shown that he is simply too gifted and creative to not find something to make the difference. Guida’s aggressive style certainly plays into his potent standup, and all he needs is an opening to make it count.
The Pick: Pettis by third-round knockout in a memorable bout that will not be forgotten any time soon.
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