LightweightsJim Miller (30-13) vs. Clay Guida (35-18)
ODDS: Miller (-175), Guida (+155)
With 59 UFC bouts between them, Guida and Miller somehow have never fought, so it is nice that two longtime action heroes finally get to cross this matchup off of their respective bucket lists. It has been a surprisingly successful return to 155 pounds for Guida over the last few years, which has essentially proved he should never have left the lightweight ranks in the first place. Guida made his name over a decade ago by being one of the most entertaining fighters on every card on which he was booked. His bouts with Roger Huerta and Diego Sanchez stand as two of the best bouts in promotional history, owing to Guida’s durability and constant activity. It was a bonus that Guida was also successful enough to get to the fringes of the lightweight title picture, though the situation eventually turned sideways near the end of 2011. First came a loss to Benson Henderson that stopped Guida’s momentum. Then came a deflating performance against Gray Maynard in which Guida essentially set fire to his action-hero reputation by implementing a movement-heavy range striking style that slowed the action to a crawl. That preceded a move down to 145 pounds, where Guida did fine but never gained much momentum. However, the Illinois native managed to turn things around upon his move back up to lightweight. Guida still has a clear ceiling as a contender -- Charles Oliveira shut him down without much trouble -- but he has added some additional weapons like actual striking power, which has allowed him to get wins like his 67-second knockout of fellow veteran Joe Lauzon.
Miller has been a much more erratic the last few years. Around the same time Guida was hitting his peak at lightweight, Miller was falling just short of a lightweight title shot, thanks to losses to Henderson and Nate Diaz. However, Miller persisted at lightweight and continued to hang around the upper tiers of the division through 2015, at which point younger fighters like Beneil Dariush and Michael Chiesa managed to dispatch him. A 2016 loss to Sanchez was particularly concerning, however, but as it turned out, Miller had been fighting through an undiagnosed case of Lyme disease. Subsequent to treatment, Miller has looked refreshed as a fighter, though in recent years it has been a bit hard to peg exactly where he is on the scale of the UFC’s lightweight roster. That is mostly thanks to his competition. Miller’s last five losses have all come to Top 20 or so lightweights, with Francisco Trinaldo probably being the worst of the bunch, while his wins have been over fringe fighters like Alex White and Jason Gonzalez. Miller is clearly no longer a contender, but he can still smoke an overmatched opponent. Hopefully this fight will fill the gaps in between, on top of being a fun scrap.
This should be Guida’s fight to lose. Miller’s recent path to victory has been finishing things on the mat, and if nothing else, Guida should be able to shut down any wrestling and survive even if things go to the ground. Beyond that, “The Carpenter” just looks like the less physically shot fighter, and Miller should not be able to offer much resistance to Guida’s typical mix of takedowns and quick striking. With that said, Miller’s reflexes are still strong enough that he should not get sparked like Lauzon, so Guida by decision is the pick.
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