UFC featherweight Clay Guida left his Chicago-area home late last week for New Mexico, where he will prepare for a recently announced featured bout against former Shooto champion Tatsuya Kawajiri in Abu Dhabi April 11 on the UFC Fight Night 39 card. Yahoo! Sports caught up with Guida and asked him about facing the Japanese legend, who many U.S. fans may have not yet heard of because he's only fought once in the UFC before.
"I compare him very similarly to [former Pride champion] Takanori Gomi," Guida said.
"He’s well-known internationally and has accomplished a lot even though he may not be that known to most UFC fans. He’s fought just about everywhere there is to fight, Shooto, Pride, Dream, Strikeforce. It’s pretty awesome to take on this challenge in a guy I grew up watching, in a great event in Abu Dhabi."
Guida fought and submitted Gomi back in 2011. In five weeks he'll face Kawajiri, who also lost to Gomi in a 2005 classic and who won his UFC debut in January.
Guida, per usual, plans to grind it out at Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn's camp in Albuquerque, NM to prepare for battle. One slight change to his training camp schedule will be that Guida plans to head to the U.A.E. early in order to acclimate to the time change before his fight April 11.
Guida has fought all over the world and, though his results have been mixed, isn't worried that the time zone change will negatively affect him.
"The plan is to get out there a couple of days earlier than usual, just to get acclimated," he said.
"My traveling record is not great but we’ve had some great fights. I’m not too worried about that. I can sleep anywhere. No matter where I am, I can be sleeping in five minutes [laughs]."
Guida is eager to get started with his training camp and is confident that he'll be able to get back on the winning track after losing his last bout to number one featherweight contender Chad Mendes last August.
"We will be more than prepared, as always," he said.
"I will be training properly and ready to take on the pressure."