In addition to being a fighter and a carpenter, Clay Guida is a wrestling fan. Cage Writer caught up with him at the Midlands wrestling tournament, where he, like anyone who has sat through a long wrestling tournament, followed each match, filled out brackets and discussed the possibilities of each bout. After the tournament, Guida talked with Cage Writer about why he's a wrestling fan, his upcoming bout with Nate Diaz at UFC 94, and the many hours he puts behind the wheel to train.
Cage Writer: Why do you follow college wrestling?
Clay Guida: I've been wrestling since I was five. I wrestled in a junior college and was a part of Harper College's national championship team. Being around college wrestling helps me with my competitiveness. I'm also watching the kids I grew up with and seeing them compete.
CW: Who is your favorite team? Favorite wrestler?
CG: Illinois, and I like Iowa too. For my all-time favorite wrestlers, it's Joey Gilbert, someone I look up to in wrestling and MMA, Joe Williams, Jim Aberle, Cael Sanderson, Dan Gable, who is an inspiration to all wrestlers and to myself. Stephen Neal is a phenomenal athlete and just a great guy, and he was a heavyweight who wrestled like he was a 141-lb.
For current guys, I like Jimmy Kennedy (pictured with Guida), Daniel Dennis and Jordan Blanton, who came from a small, underrated school. Muhammed Lawal is fun to watch, and Henry Cejudo. Also, Brent Metcalf. He's an animal who just wears his guys down and has a style like mine.
CW: Do you work out with any college wrestlers?
CG: Yeah, I've worked with Jordan Blanton and Jimmy Kennedy recently, and I've worked with Daniel Dennis, too. I also work out at Harper College. Since I went there, they let me work out there when I am training for a fight.
CW: Do you see any of them having a future in MMA?
CG: Jordan has talked about wanting to train, and I told him to focus on wrestling because if not it will blow by you. The fighting will be there, so get your college education, and do everything in wrestling and then move on and worry about fighting.
Wrestlers have a better chance than anybody in fighting because they already have the dedication and the focus. They know about the weightcutting and training and the individuality of the sport.
CW: How are you getting ready for your fight with Diaz?
CG: I'm training twice a day, and doing live sparring, and striking with takedowns, Muay Thai, jiu-jitsu, everything.
CW: Diaz is known as one of the best on the ground. How do you plan on combating that?
CG: He is very dangerous on the ground, so I've been working bad positions to get out, getting back to my feet. I'm putting in the extra time, he comes forward a lot like me, but once he feels the power in my hands, he's not going to be able stop my takedowns, he's not goint to be able to take me down. I've been working my cardio and conditioning too, and he won't beat me there.
CW: Where do you train?
CG: IHP in Deerfield, Ill., Midwest Training Center in Schaumburg, and Gilbert Grappling in Tinley Park.
CW: That's a lot of driving.
CG: Yeah, I live up in Johnsburg, too, so it's a lot. I wish I could spend more time training and less time driving.