The Pearl at The Palms is a relatively small venue. Every seat in the place is a good one, if you were amongst the 1,800 at The Ultimate Fighter 9 Finale you noticed there were two Guidas waging the battle against Diego Sanchez. Inside the cage it was lightweight Clay Guida, outside it was Mama Debbie (pictured on the floor cageside in front of the rest of the Guidas). She was Vince Lombardi and Lou Duva rolled into one, imploring Clay to make sure he won the third round:
"I was yelling, you have got to win this round," said Debbie Guida told Cagewriter. "Don't let him hit you again. And I was pointing my finger."
Clay said he heard his mother yelling in the first round but not later in the fight. That's amazing considering Debbie ran right up to the Octagon next to the action in the final minute and was screaming for her son to pour it on.
Debbie was like Stan Van Gundy, or my favorite former NFL O-line coach Carl Mauck, going crazy throughout the fight:
"There are no words to describe it. My pants are all dirty from kneeling on the floor, praying that neither one of the boys would get hurt."
Clay had a ton of his cousins from California on hand to root for him. They wore t-shirts spelling out G-U-I-D-A. Talk to anyone who covers MMA or is a fan of the sport, if they've met Guida, they'll tell you he's a class act. You can see why by spending some time around his parents. Clay missed the official TUF 9 Finale postfight press conference. He showed up 45 minutes late but he had a good excuse. He was getting his right eye stitched up. Even with the that, the guy came upstairs at The Palms and apologized profusely for being late. In an extended conversation without his Mom by his side, Guida said he'll be ready to go as soon as the eye is healed up (VIDEO).