Guida: Trawling for a Title Shot

By Mike Sloan Dec 7, 2007
Virtually every fighter, from novice to world champion, wakes up at the crack of dawn for a depleting morning run. Typically, pad work, bag work, mitt work and jumping rope follow. Then there's weight training, a proper diet that frustrates most, and grueling cardio regimens. Don't forget to include all the hours of bone-jarring sparring.

The life of a fighter, especially one who dedicates his or her entire existence to the sport, is a daunting one, a way of life that only a select few are capable of living.

The aches, the bruises, the cuts, the headaches, the heartaches encapsulate what 99.9 percent of the fight fans can never grasp, the sort of deliberate torture most regular people couldn't possibly comprehend.

All that, no matter how debilitating it may seem, is almost a joke to Clay Guida (Pictures), who fights Roger Huerta (Pictures) in the main event of Saturday's "The Ultimate Fighter 6" season finale on SpikeTV.

Speaking with a tone of bewildered reminiscence, Guida recounted what life was like during six weeks on a 210-foot trawler in the perilous Bering Sea with a group of men whose sole purpose it was to catch crab and fish far off the coast of Alaska.

"It was by far the toughest thing I've ever done in my life, without a doubt," Guida told "It was way tougher than any UFC fight, any mixed martial arts organization, any training, anything. It was during a different stage of my life and I'm glad I did it. I probably won't ever do it again but it definitely made more of a man out of me. It was a great experience and I met a lot of good people, made a lot of money but it was without a doubt the toughest thing I've ever done. I can't explain how brutal of a job that was."

At the ripe age of 21, Guida, wanting a change in his life, made the trek from the Windy City to Alaska. He knew the journey would be arduous but he didn't fully grasp how daunting and depleting an assignment it was until the first frigid wave crashed over the ship.

It's one thing to be walking outside in sub-zero temperatures with 30 mile-per-hour winds in Chicago, but it's another thing entirely when the ocean splashes up and devours the entire deck, only to freeze into heaping chunks of ice almost instantly.

The crew had to scurry around, break up the ice and throw it back into Poseidon's wrath, only to repeat the process ad nauseam every single day.

And that's not including the hundreds of pounds of sea life that was lifted from the ocean via crates and pulleys while the tyrannical and vicious sea battered the ship like a ping-pong ball.

"Being out there was a fight with yourself, you know, the struggle," Guida said. "We worked pretty damn hard out there and I can't even compare how hard that was to grueling training or a fight. It's like nothing I've ever done before, so nothing even compares to that."

"We were out there for 14-day intervals and come back to land for a day to offload our catch and then go back for another 14 days for a full six months," he said, relieved that those days are a thing of the past. "Every day you think about your friends and family but you have to just go back out there with your crew and new buddies. But when you're working 18-20 hours a day, seven days a week, up to 130 hours a week, it's kind of hard not to want to get off and go live a normal life again. Pretty much every day I wanted to go home."

That type of fortitude and mental toughness has paid dividends in Guida's life, especially in how he trains and fights inside the cage.

Guida is renowned for his relentless pressure and unending stamina. Every man who dares climb into the cage Guida knows well in advance that "The Carpenter" won't run out of gas and will be in his face from start to finish.

"I get my work ethic from my father," said Guida, who turns 26 on Saturday. "He's worked very hard his whole life and we come from not very much. More importantly, I come from a very loving and supportive family, which takes my training to a whole another level. I use that work ethic into my training and I'm also having fun out there. It may not look like it out there, but I am having a lot of fun, which makes my training easier."

Preparing for Huerta is fairly easy for Guida anyway, considering how important this fight is for the lightweight contender. Huerta has become the new poster boy for the UFC. He has the looks ladies adore and possesses the potential to bring in millions of Hispanic fight fans that might only desire boxing.

"He's earned his keep in the UFC," Guida said. "That doesn't bother me one bit. It actually fuels the fire a lot more for this fight. It's nothing personal against him. I don't know exactly why that is; maybe it's management, maybe he's better looking, I don't know what it is. But that's all out of my hands. It's on the UFC and the media."

Guida (22-8-0) realizes a triumph over a fighter some have deemed the MMA version of Oscar de la Hoya would catapult him into the forefront of the 155-pound weight division.

""Without a doubt this is the most important fight of my life," he added. "I haven't even scratched the surface as to what I can achieve and this fight is huge for me, for TV and for Roger as well. A lot is at stake here and I'm sure Roger feels the same way, which makes for an intriguing and exciting matchup. He hasn't fought the toughest competition, but he's handled the guys he's fought, no doubt. He can't pick the guys he fights but the 8th ain't going to be his night, I know that for sure. I've fought tougher opponents. I've got more experience and we'll see how it goes."

Guida expects the best Huerta to show up and he is prepared for one of the toughest fights of his life -- just not as tough as the frozen air on the horrifying Bering Sea.

Get an inside look at Clay Guida's training for Roger Huerta.
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