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Random Rants: Clay Guida literally finishes fights; Jason Guida is no Gabe Ruediger; another Houston Alexander apology; and more

We get a lot of feedback here at the site; some of it good and some of it negative. In the last week, we’ve received several complaints. One reader expressed concern over a lack of fight analysis on Thursday following UFC Fight Night 15. We’re all part-timers and Thursday was a busy news day so we don’t always have time to cover all the angles. And with the launch of our new format, one reader expressed concern that we might become strictly a news site and stop offering opinion-based features.

Well, this column should address both complaints all in one shot as I will do my best to offer fight analysis pertaining to UFN 15 as well as offer some opinions pertaining to the show as well as the premiere episode for the eighth season of “The Ultimate Fighter.”

Let’s get started, shall we?

Why does Clay Guida have to be a finisher?

There’s quite a dichotomy between the reception Clay Guida gets from a live audience in comparison to the Internet. When Guida gets introduced to a crowd, he is universally cheered in the arena. However, it’s a different story on the Internet. While he has his fans on the Interwebs, he is not met with the same universal positive reaction he receives from crowds, as he has his fair share of cyber critics.

The number one complaint made against Guida is that he doesn’t finish fights. I really fail to see how that is a legitimate chink in his armor. I mean, who does consistently finish fights at 155 lbs. besides B.J. Penn? I’m not saying there aren’t good finishers at lightweight, but due to the nature of the size of the fighters, you don’t see a lot of knockout artists at that weight.

To me, Guida is indeed an exciting finisher — he literally finishes fights by going the distance. I don’t mind seeing Guida go a full 15 minutes because his cardio is off the charts and he’s constantly pushing the pace. The guy rarely ever tries to pace himself and he’s just relentless. I’d rather see a 15-minute war than a two-minute squash match.

Guida is getting the respect he deserves from a lot of people but I still think there are a lot of others who need to wake up. His wrestling and cardio are exceptional. His striking isn’t world class but he still brings something to the table when he stands.

Maybe he’s not a knockout artist or black belt level when it comes to his jiu-jitsu, but he’s a top fighter who I believe is more than just a gate-keeper. With quality wins over Josh Thomson, Marcus Aurelio, and now Mac Danzig, I believe he has the potential to evolve into a top-ten caliber lightweight. It’s important to remember that he’s still only 26-years old.

Nate Diaz has a chance to be better than his brother

I have a lot of questions about Nate Diaz’s all-around game but after his win over Kurt Pellegrino at UFC Fight Night 13 this past April, I told myself it was time to start to ignore those questions because his ground game is just too slick.

Nate’s older brother, Nick, is known for his prowess on the ground as well, as he is just one of three men to ever be promoted to black belt by Cesar Gracie. But there’s a huge difference between Nick and Nate and that is takedown ability.

Even though they train together, Nate has done a much better job of incorporating Judo takedowns into his MMA game. For whatever reason, Nick hasn’t been able to show the same skills and relies too much on traditional jiu-jitsu takedowns that really aren’t effective on a national MMA level. Nate Diaz is 5-0 in the UFC because he’s been able to get his fights to the ground whenever he’s needed to. The same can’t be said for Nick Diaz.

I really don’t know about Nate’s standup skills though. He tried to show some of his boxing training against Josh Neer on Wednesday and it was the same pitter-patter punching we see from Nick that might score some points with judges but they don’t inflict a lot of damage against opponents.

At the end of the day though it’s all about the ground for Nate Diaz. Aside from B.J. Penn, I’m not sure anyone currently in the UFC’s lightweight division has better jiu-jitsu than and that says a lot considering fighters such as Kenny Florian, Thiago Tavares, Hermes Franca, and Marcus Aurelio are no joke on the ground.

But in talking about Nate Diaz’s performance from this past Wednesday, I am left with two questions.

First, why don’t fighters with world class jiu-jitsu and so-so standup skills spend more time becoming takedown specialists? If I was an MMA fighter with black belt level skills on the mat, I’d not only try to master jiu-jitsu takedowns but I’d study Judo and would also go to wrestling schools to learn Greco-Roman upper body takedowns as well as freestyle wrestling leg attacks. I think if you can master multiple takedown styles then it might be pretty hard for an opponent to scout you on video and time you up with their sprawl.

And the second question, what happened to the old Nick Diaz? You know, the guy who knocked out Robbie Lawler at UFC 47 and the dude who was smoking Takanori Gomi so bad with punches at PRIDE 33 that Gomi felt a need to take a fight to the ground? There was a time when Nick Diaz actually threw power shots.

More from the Houston Alexander-apologist department

My op-ed piece on Thursday defending Houston Alexander drew quite the response. In reading some of the responses, there was one thing I don’t quite understand and that’s the anger that some people have towards him because of his poor performances on the ground.

The way some people get mad at him is the same way a sports fan gets down on an underachieving athlete competing for their favorite local team. I can understand why a sportsfan would resent the starting shortstop on their favorite team that is batting .212 and strikes out with runners in scoring position all the time. When it comes to local sports teams, your money is funding the franchise whether it be through alloted tax money that built a new stadium or high cable rates to cover the inclusion of the regional cable channel on your basic tier that televises the games.

But I am perplexed why that same kind of resentment exists for fighters that compete for a national promotion. Some of those posts read as though that some people really are bothered by the fact that Houston Alexander is a UFC fighter. And I don’t get that level of anger and resentment because unless you buy a pay-per-view or a ticket, it costs you nothing to watch a UFC event. Alexander’s last two fights have been on Spike TV so if he goes in there and stinks the arena up, you’ve invested nothing.

In regards to the argument that someone with Alexander’s lack of ground skills isn’t worthy of being in the UFC, one commenter made a good point and that is that as long as Alessio Sakara has a place in the UFC, so should Houston Alexander. And he’s right. But it goes just beyond Alexander. There are a lot more fighters currently on the UFC roster besides Sakara that have been given more chances than Alexander.

Three consecutive defeats is bad but he’s still 2-3 overall in the Octagon. The are fighters with far worse records than that who are competing in the UFC. Alexander definitely should take a fight or two outside of the UFC but I still believe it would be a mistake to cut him from his contract and not bring him back at some point.

Ed Herman deserved to win

If you’re one of the many commenters that believed Ed Herman deserved to win Wednesday night, you’re not alone. While I have seen far more egregious decisions in the past, I still do not believe Alan Belcher won that fight. He relied too much on his kicks and was taken down very easily. Herman also scored points by landing several power punches. I just felt that Herman finished the final two rounds strong and was the clear winner.

Eighth season of “The Ultimate Fighter” off to a strong start

When it comes to watching episodes of TUF, I like to keep things simple. After all, it’s a reality television show so I no longer waste my time trying to analyze the cultural impact the show has by the way it portrays MMA. When I look at it now I just ask myself whether I was entertained by the episode or not. And I found Wednesday’s premiere to be very high-paced and filled with good theater.

The most prevalent storyline on the show for me was the Jason Guida weight issue. Some people have been critical of the selection of a 17-17 fighter for the show but the idea is to create episodes that get people talking. Spike TV and the UFC accomplished that mission with Guida. And I don’t really get why such a big deal is being made of Guida’s failure to make weight.

Thiago Alves was given a big opportunity to headline a pay-per-view against Matt Hughes with a possible title shot on the line and he failed to make weight and he’s still employed by the UFC. When I complained about Alves failing to make weight and stated that the win shouldn’t count, more people people responded to defend Alves than to support my position.

I really think it’s a matter of Jordan rules. For some reason, people like Thiago Alves. He looks the part and is an impressive prospect with tremendous athleticism. Because of that, I think some people are more willing to overlook his transgressions. But Jason Guida has never fought in the UFC and doesn’t resemble a blue chip prospect so people are less forgiving. But lest we forget, Guida only missed weight by one pound while Alves missed it by four.

I’ve also read a lot of people ripping Guida for saying he’s no Gabe Ruediger. Well, he’s right. Sure, he bitched and moaned but so do most fighters while they are making a big cut in weight. The only difference is that there isn’t a camera in their face documenting everything they are saying. But the bottom line is that Guida never quit. Even after weighing in at 207 he was still prepared to go cut the additional pound. It was Keith Kizer who pulled plug, not Guida.

Guida’s only mistake was that he didn’t do a better job of masking his emotions. Because he was in such visual distress in front of the Executive Director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission he forced Kizer’s hand. Had he been able to downplay the struggle of the cut a little more, he would have put Kizer in a position where he didn’t feel obligated to act in such an authoratative fashion.

I also felt the Phillipe Nover vs. Joe Duarte fight was excellent. After watching it, I could understand why Frank Mir was so vocal in his exclusive interview with Gary Ibarra were determined. regarding how the qualifying matchupsDuarte was not good enough to beat Nover but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be in the house. I will be shocked if all eight lightweights that made it into the house are better than Duarte.

I was also surprised that Lance Evans didn’t catch more flack for his decision to pull himself from his fight. A lot of people ripped Kalib Starnes for bowing out of his fight on TUF 3 because of a rib injury. Evans did the same thing. I’m not saying rib injuries are to be taken lightly, but there are fighters who suffer broken limbs and concussions during a fight and still battle to the bitter end. Evans was in a huge spot with a lot on the line and rather than bite the bullet for five more minutes, he elected to walk away.

My favorite moment of the show though was seeing Jose Aguilar get exposed. There have been several despicable individuals who lacked character that have been featured on TUF through the years but that guy took the cake for me. He was such a scumbag that he made a cocky kid in Junie Browning very easy to root for. When I interviewed white nationalist Melvin Costa last year, not even he wanted to compare himself to Hitler. I’m a conqueror, dog? I’m a criminal, dog? How old are you, 14? And after all the s— talk the dude quit on his stool after round one. Thanks for the effort.

  • Grappo says:

    Clay Guida is ossum and that’s all there is to it. There’s nothing I don’t like about the kid. He’s a rampaging whirlwind of hair and fists in the octagon that never slows down or gives an inch. That, and the fact that he sometimes comes out to REFUSED is enough for me to always root for the guy, finisher or not. I picked Danzig to win, but I’m so glad he didn’t.

    Diaz (Nate) has always looked sloppy to me, like he was just lucking himself into some submissions at critical points in a fight… but I have to admit that he’s a much slicker submission artist than I have given him credit for. I liked his victory speech, throwing out the unbleeped f-bombs on live TV (did they not have people ready on the bleep button?! It was NATE DIAZ on mic after all) and calling the “fighters” ducking his brother punks. I also liked how he gave great respect to Josh Neer, and told him to “kick everybody else’s ass in this division.” That made me and my buddies bust out laughing.

    I don’t agree that Herman won the fight. He had more takedowns, but did little with them. I thought Belcher’s striking was more impressive than what Herman brought to the table.

    Maybe the disgust with Houston has to do with the way he’s been shoved down our throats by the UFC, hyped and hyped, only to come up short the majority of the time, and showing little (or no) improvement in his ground game. The Alessio Sakara comparison may be apt, but then again, he’s not a UFC golden boy. Maybe it also has to do with how explosive we know he can be, and his failure to land a KO punch or knee is just frustrating to the barbarian inside of us.

    In agreement with Mir and Caplan about the TUF matchups. They really should put a little more thought into the entrance fights to ensure that the best guys make it on. It’d be better for the fans and make a more exciting show. Was anyone really really hyped to see Amir Sadollah vs. Jesse Taylor in the finale of last season? I’m almost glad I didn’t get to see that. Maybe it could have been avoided if the entrance fights were picked with a little more insight.

  • Numba1Stunna says:

    No question Ed Herman won that fight. But my scorecard had him winning rounds 1 and 3, with Belcher taking round 2. I can understand how one judge who might look more to striking could have picked Belcher, but not two. It was obvious Ed Herman fought a better all-around fight when you consider the factors a judge uses. Aggression, Striking, Grappling, Takedowns, and Octagon Control.
    I think Houston needs to take a few fights in regional shows to get some wins and build his confidence back, then have the UFC match him with a striker, and watch him roar back into the UFC just like his debut. The man has amazing power and some good athleticism, he just lacks basic grappling fundamentals. I think it would be in his best interest to train some serious JJ for a while, focusing mostly on defense since we all know he doesnt want to submit you. But my thing is, if he doesnt want to train a lot of ground why didnt he just work his ass off in the gym on takedown defense? So he wouldnt have to get into the position that he did? Baffling….HOUSTON GO TRAIN SOME JJ DEFENSE AND LEARN HOW TO SPRAWL SO YOU DONT HAVE TO GO TO THE GROUND!
    Nate Diaz is the man, plain and simple. HE IS A 155’ER WHO FINISHES FIGHTS. Albeit, Josh Neer was able to take him the distance in what I think was a great fight. BTW props to Neer, that is one crafty, tough, smart fighter. Counting TUF Nate Diaz is 9-0 in the UFC with 7 finishes (6 really tho, Manny in the finale shouldn’t count). That is pretty impressive if you ask anyone, and as for his stand-up I think he utilizes a perfect style, Nate is not built to knock anyone with with that skinny frame and long arms, so why waste alot of energy throwing power shots? He lands a very high percentage and thats because of the style he uses, short accurate punches that connect. Most of the time he uses his strikes to set up a clinch then takedown. His BJJ speaks for itself, the stepover pass was insane, and his transitions to Neer’s back were too smooth.

  • Rob says:

    great column, you always hit the nail on the head.

  • Davey D says:

    Clay Guida has had a pretty tough road so far with great result’s. It’s not going to get any easier either. That kid is tough. I would like to see how Clay and Diaz both would do against BJ Penn someday. It could happen next year maybe?

    Nathan Diaz could end up fighting Clay next. That fight makes sense. Nate fought smart and didn’t panic when Josh had him in some troubling spots. Neer belongs in the UFC. I hope they keep him around because he could be a terror at 155.

    What was Cecil Peoples smoking the other day? He had Blecher and Neer winning their bouts? I disagreed with both. Ed Herman was robbed, the SD should’ve went his way. Nate’s victory should’ve been a UD. Oh well, it’s over with.

    I think Alan Blecher will fight Rosimar Phalares next. I’ll say Alan is entertaing.

    Houston Alexander should train with Pat Miletich or Matt Hughes. Those two could teach him how to survive in the Octagon and aren’t very far from home. He has a great story and I hope he is able to get back on the winning track.

  • Tom says:

    Clay Guida has amazing cardio and is constantly pushing the action — not unlike a former lightweight champion many people think is boring: Sean Sherk.

    Personally, I think Guida is a great fighter with amazing cardio and an unwillingness to slow down during a fight. That being said, I’d rather see a fighter win by a fight by TKO or Submission, than wrestle out a decision like Guida and Sherk always do. It seems like the only way their fights will be finished is if the other fighter tkos or submits them — and who doesn’t like to see fights finished instead of going to decision.

  • Sergio Hernandez says:

    Guida never slows down even at the risk of him getting caught (see: Huerta).

    A lot of the time, exciting fighters keep their job when they should be fighting elsewhere (see: Alexander). Guida is the rare example of an exciting fighter who can drop a couple of fights and not have to worry about being cut.

  • egad81 says:

    people actually complain on this site?
    I dont get it.

    Great read SAM… stilly trying to find my way around the 50z maze but I am starting to like it… less scrolling

  • Goomba says:

    My problem with Alexander is he is being given far too much, like Kimbo. He is a one-dimensional fighter fighting a (to most people) unknown fighter in Schafer.

    WIthout Houston, or even if he was on the undercard, a better fight, such as Miller vs. Kimmons, Lauzon vs. Bradley, or Gouveia vs. Jensen.

  • Joel says:

    Thanks for speaking out on Aguilar. Nuff said. Go home and stay home

  • Neil says:

    Good call on Jose Aguilar. After they introduced Junie I decided that I never wanted to hear him talk again (and ideally be ousted from the show immediately), but after hearing Jose’s rant I decided that the lesser of two evils was probably Junie.. good thing Jose didn’t make it any further!

  • JollyDV says:

    I know that when Clay Guida is on the card, regardless of who he is fighting, it is going to be non stop from start to finish. I love it!

    Nate Diaz has such a bright future in MMA. He possess only some of the bad traits his brother Nick often shows the audience. I think as long as Nick continues to improve his game and get tougher fighters he will grow not only as a fighter but as human being. With the big names, comes the responsibility to control yourself while representing the UFC. For some he may be a role model, but many people will always compare him to his brother and that is a mistake. He is his own person, and one way to move forward in the right direction, is to not bring Nick in with him to the Octagon or to post fight interviews.

    I think the hating going on for Houston Alexander may stem from the fact he came out of nowhere and KO’d Keith Jardine then the same fight he did the same thing. Instant stardom. Then he loses and shows his weakness. He has so much to offer, he needs to find a way to train with a better camp, somehow I am sure he can find a way to make this happen. I say he should hang around a bit longer as well.

  • Jay K. says:

    Aguilar is 14 yr. old douchebag. Another “Thank you” Sam for voicing what I think.

    What will it take for Clay Guida to get to Xtreme Couture for some GnP where he can learn submissions. He was so close to RNC’ing Mac Danzig that I was jumping out of my chair shouting ‘finish him!’ ‘finish him!!’ Clay always brings the best fights to the UFC. He’s like the Ultimate Warrior from the WWF days sans retarded attitude, ‘roids and facepaint.

    Clay is awesome, and really energizes a crowd!

  • jim smith says:

    “it costs you nothing to watch a UFC event. Alexander’s last two fights have been on Spike TV so if he goes in there and stinks the arena up, you’ve invested nothing”

    Just because I didn’t pay for it, it doesn’t mean you can piss on my head and call it rain. A bad fighter is s bad fighter, free or not. Why not give a more rounded fighter a chance to put on a show” than Alexander? Free or not, I don’t want to watch a fight go for less than one round and see a guy get submitted easily.

  • Imbecile says:

    Sam, I think a lot of the backlash for your Houston Alexander column is for several reasons:

    First, it appeared as though you were trying to defend his ground game. I know you were just saying that nobody can say for certain how much he trains for the ground, but it came off like you were defending a clearly inept ground game by Alexander.

    Second, Alexander may be the most one dimensional fighter the UFC currently has that has been given a lot of hype. He is ONLY a power puncher. Truthfully, his boxing isn’t even that good. His head movement isn’t good, and neither is his footwork. He simply hits hard… really hard!!! He has below average wrestling, non-existent jiu-jitsu defense or offense, questionable cardio, and seems to have little heart to continue when put in a bad position. Not really the type of fighter that inspires a fanbase in this sport. Comparisons to other “one dimensional” fighters don’t really hold up, since those fighters at least show some competence in other areas of the fight game. Sakara knows how to get in guard, at least.

    Third, Alexander has annoyed a lot of the fanbase that values respect in MMA after his less-than-humble antics after his wins. Sure, other people celebrate too, but those celebrations are often criticized, as well. Alexander may be a nice guy outside of the octagon, but he wasn’t too classy inside after his wins, and that annoys people.

    Fourth, fans are somewhat resentful of all the hype Alexander has received by both the UFC, and from the MMA media, because they feel it is undeserving. In that regard, he is a little like Kimbo Slice. He is untested, and largely unproven, but because he had an interesting personality and an exciting KO of Jardine, countless articles were written about Alexander. MMA fans had Alexander’s “compelling” story shoved down their throats, about how he is raising six children on his own, and how we should respect what a classy guy that makes him. As though, somehow, having six kids with not a mention of where the several mothers of these children are is somehow the pillar of responsibility. It is great that he has taken responsibility in raising them, and he seems like a nice enough guy, but a lot of fans weren’t too compelled by this story because of the lack of responsibility in him getting into this situation. Great that he is doing the right thing, but so are all of the other guys who decided not to get a bunch of women pregnant in the first place. Alessio Sakara’s story was never shoved down our throats as though we were supposed to care, and so there wasn’t as much resentment. People like to hear the personal stories of champions, but not necessarily those of below-average fighters.

    So those are some of reasons I think people didn’t much take to the article defending Alexander.

    On another note, I think you are right on about Jason Guida’s weight cut, and I thought your condemnation of Thiago Alves was completely warranted and one of the only critical ones I remember reading at the time. However, I think people are critical of Guida because missing weight has become the cardinal sin of TUF, after the infamous misses by Lutter and Ruediger. Also, I think more people came to Thiago Alves’ defense out of dislike for Matt Hughes than approval of Alves. I think a lot of Hughes haters didn’t want his fall from grace to be de-legitimized by Alves’ completely unprofessional handling of that fight. Just my opinion.

  • Mike says:

    Interesting comments:

    Clay Guida is awesome – I never care about his fights going to decisions because his fights are NEVER boring – always 15 minutes of solid actions. The fans love him for good reason. I say put him up against Joe Lauzon.

    On Nate Diaz, I don’t think the Pellegrino fight was indicative of his skill on the ground – he looked terrible in that fight and got lucky with the triangle. However, he looked much better against Neer and I hope he gets a step up in competition – would love to see him against Roger Huerta

  • nate says:

    I cant wait to see more of Nate Diaz, he does need to continue to improve his standup I think. He has some tough competition to beat in his weight class

    Nice quote you included by Jose Aguilar.. he has no skills, no desire, bad mouth & no brain = please leave. Glad to see him go. Junie is so arrogant, it would have been tough to find someone to put him against & make him look good. They found him though.

  • Mike Wolfe says:

    I thought Herman lost that fight as I watched it happen. Belcher was doing more damage, especially with the leg kicks, and was pressing the action. Herman took him down, but wasn’t able to inflict any damage. Belcher just looked better on that night.

    I watched TUF and thought that Junie had a big mouth. And then Aguilar compared himself to Alexander the Great, Hitler, and Ghengis Khan and said “dog” about seven or eight times in about 60 seconds. I immediately decided I disliked him more than Junie and wasn’t at all surprised by the outcome. “Still pretty?” Pretty weak, dog.

  • I thought that Belcher won the fight. I did not even think is was that debatable.
    One benefit Nate has it that he is able to see all the stupid stuff his brother has done and not do the same. He is very slippery on the ground, It will be interesting to see him with someone that can neutralize it and force him to stand.
    Houston got a great min against a legti fighter in Jardine and a overly hyped one against Alessio and suddenly he is a title contender. Since then he has been figured out by the other fighters, It is comparable to a pitcher that is great in the 1st 3 innings and gets progressively worse as the game goes on. I realize he is older than most fighters but if he wants to be legit he must get some big time ground training. Go visit Brock for a couple of months or go see the OU wrestling team.
    I am a huge fan of Clay and will watch him every time he fights. I would rather watch him fight for 15 minutes than him score a 2 minute KO.

  • HexRei says:

    Imbecile wrote:
    MMA fans had Alexander’s “compelling” story shoved down their throats, about how he is raising six children on his own, and how we should respect what a classy guy that makes him. As though, somehow, having six kids with not a mention of where the several mothers of these children are is somehow the pillar of responsibility. It is great that he has taken responsibility in raising them, and he seems like a nice enough guy, but a lot of fans weren’t too compelled by this story because of the lack of responsibility in him getting into this situation. Great that he is doing the right thing, but so are all of the other guys who decided not to get a bunch of women pregnant in the first place.

    Uhm, that story wasn’t to prove that he was so very responsible and should be lauded for taking care of his children. Seriously man, where would you get that? Lots of fighters have kids and talk about them on the air. Is it because he’s black and there’s a stereotype about black men ditching their baby mommas? The point was about his work ethic to take care of those kids (six kids is NEVER an easy job, and how does the presence or absence of the mother affect that) and the fact that he is a guy with a lot of things going on outside the cage. It was to humanize him a little rather than just portraying him as a raging beast who crushes people in the octagon.

  • Mike says:

    So we can conclude that Houston Alexander needs BJJ lessons and a large supply of condoms. Maybe can sponsor him?

  • fghtfn says:

    The Guida-Danzig fight was kind of boring.Yes,Guida had some takedowns but he didn’t do anything when he had him down.Just kind of held him there.

  • ragefightingwear says:

    Houston, train with a camp of BJJ blackbelts, Jorge Gurgel would be a excellent choice. Everyone has figured out how to beat you.

    Guida vs Danzig = boring fight. Mac is actually a more skilled fighter. But we love to watch Guida fight.


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