In the lone lightweight match-up filling a spot on the UFC 117 main card, fan favorite blue-collar cardio freak Clay "The Carpenter" Guida (26-11, 6-5 UFC) will look to derail the winning streak of Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace Rafael Dos Anjos (14-4, 3-2 UFC) and turn around his misfortunes from losses to Kenny Florian and Diego Sanchez. It certainly won't be an easy task as Dos Anjos has been quite effective in using his grappling prowess and improving stand-up to secure wins over Terry Etim, Kyle Bradley, and Rob Emerson. Guida has battled much better competition than Dos Anjos however, losing to the aforementioned Florian and Sanchez, but also defeating respectable opponents in Mac Danzig, Nate Diaz, and Marcus Aurelio.
With any bout that Clay Guida is involved in, questions normally arise around his inability to punch with any sort of stopping power or technical form. We've heard the constant talk from Guida himself that his form is a work in progress and it's improving constantly, but the performances haven't supported those statements. Wild, inaccurate, and sluggish at times, Guida has normally resorted to his more consistent style of outworking opponents with relentless pace and takedowns. It works in the capacity of controlling his opponents, but truly limits his power to finish.
Dos Anjos may have the skills to punch through Guida's deficient striking skills via an improving Muay Thai stand-up game, but Guida has proven his chin can't be fazed by mere mortal power. No, it'd probably take a gun, and even that's debatable. Instead, Dos Anjos will more than likely need to rely on his strikes to score points and keep Guida at bay. It isn't an impracticable course of action given Guida's track record of grabbing opponents and holding them down.
Dos Anjos also has the added advantage of being very effective in the grappling department, but it's somewhat of a question mark as to how effective he can be against Guida. Guida, giving credit where credit is due, is a very tough fighter to submit unless he's tired or hurt. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu closed guard is one tactic that could wear out Guida from the bottom, but we've seen countless times in the past where trying to control posture and allowing Guida to wear himself out hasn't worked. After all, this is only a three-round affair.
Instead, Dos Anjos will need to be aggressive and active, working for reversals and finding a means to ending the fight quickly before it progresses to the late rounds. If Guida can bring this to the late rounds and win one of the two opening rounds convincingly, it should be in the bag for the Johnsburg, Illinois-native.
This is a bit of a tough call. I was impressed by Dos Anjos at UFC 112 against Terry Etim, and I've followed his training with Evolve MMA quite a bit in the lead-up to this fight. He's definitely an improving fighter at a young age in this sport, and he's got potential. This fight could be a turning point for him, but I think Guida's style will smother him from the top and keep him at bay for most of the fight. While I've been a huge critic of Clay's striking, he's still able to avoid the huge blows and gain takedowns, and that will ultimately win him this fight.