After last week having no major events, this week has an abundance. Bellator is returning with the start of their light heavyweight tournament. In addition, the UFC is having not one, but two events this weekend. On Friday night is UFC on FX 4. The next night is UFC 147 with a main event featuring two legends squaring off in Rich Franklin and Wanderlei Silva.

While the Bellator tournament might produce a fight of the week at the end of the tournament, it is just starting. And while I gave serious consideration to previewing either the legends match-up or the co-main event of 147 featuring top-10 heavyweight Fabricio Werdum facing rising contender Mike Russow, I believe the closest fight this week is between the main event fighters on UFC on FX 4. Top-10 lightweights Gray Maynard and Clay Guida square off, looking to inch closer to a title shot.

Maynard is coming off back-to-back title shots against former UFC champion Frankie Edgar. At UFC 125, Maynard believed he did enough to win the belt, but the judges ruled the fight a draw. In his rematch at UFC 136, Maynard followed up that disappointing decision with a heartbreaking loss—the first of his career.  Maynard is looking to rebound and put himself back into title contention.

Standing in his way is Clay Guida. Guida himself was an inch away from getting a title shot. After beating rising contender Anthony Pettis, Guida put on an absolute war with Benson Henderson last November. The end result was a decision loss that left Guida looking to rebuild while Henderson went on to win the title.

Now these two veterans and contenders face off with the hope of getting back into contention.

Let’s take a deeper look at the fight. And as a reminder, this is a side-by-side comparison of how the fighters’ skills match up against one another.

Striking: Maynard – 7, Guida – 7

Maynard (R) connects with a right hand (James Law/Heavy MMA)

Guida’s speed and tenacity is showcased by his constant motion. This is evident in his striking game where he will throw knees, punches, kicks and elbows. His cardio allows him to be in constant motion and maintain his attack throughout the fight.

Maynard doesn’t have Guida’s speed. While at times he does mix in different types of strikes, his bread and butter is his boxing.  However, Maynard does possess a key attribute: power. While he only has two knockout victories in his career, he has stunned and knocked down a number of others.

While their striking games are very different, both have proven to be effective.

Clinch: Maynard – 8, Guida – 7

Guida has skills that make him effective in the clinch. He has speed and versatility in the strikes he throws, as well as the option of a takedown. In most fights, this may give him the advantage, but not in this one.

Maynard is a huge lightweight. The clinch attack will be a place he can utilize his size and strength advantage. From the clinch, I would look for Maynard to drive Guida into the cage wall. This will effectively slow Guida and zap his energy because he is forced to carry Maynard’s weight. In this position, it will also allow Maynard to land solid strikes.

Ground Game: Maynard – 6, Guida – 7

Guida works for a submission (Paul Thatcher/Fight! Magazine)

Guida has pulled together 15 submission victories in his career. His wrestling ability allows him to get to advantageous spots and once there he knows what to do. If a submission isn’t available, he utilizes solid ground-and-pound to open his opponent up.

Maynard’s offensive ground game is primarily just ground-and-pound, and he has never submitted an opponent. His defensive ground game is ever improving and when coupled with his takedown defense, it is formidable. He has never been submitted in his career.

Guida’s offense on the ground is more varied and gives him more options, which gives him the advantage in the ground game.

Wrestling: Maynard – 8, Guida – 8

Guida (Mike Fridley/Sherdog)

Maynard was a Division I collegiate wrestler. When he entered the sport, he used his wrestling as his primary weapon as he took down competitors to grind out decisions. As he has grown as a fighter, he has gained confidence in his stand-up game and primarily uses his wrestling defensively.

Guida does not have the collegiate accolades Maynard does. However, his wrestling has been proven in the cage. He applies relentless pressure in his offense, which smoothly mixes strikes and takedowns. Guida also regularly utilizes his wrestling offensively, but Maynard has it in his back pocket if needed.

X-Factor:

The x-factor this time out is size versus speed. Maynard is a much bigger fighter while Guida relies on motion and speed. Both possess a similar skill set, but the physical difference will determine this fight. The winner of this fight will need to overcome their disadvantage—either speed or size.

Total: Maynard – 29, Guida – 29

Verdict:  This is a toss-up between two top lightweights. Can Guida use his speed and versatility to overcome Maynard’s size? Or will Maynard’s size prove to be too much as he slows the fight to a grind? Based on past experiences of both, I am leaning towards Maynard, but Frankie Edgar did prove Maynard could be stopped by the right game plan and faster hands.

Top Photo: Gray Maynard (L) battles Frankie Edgar (James Law/Heavy MMA)

About The Author

Richard Wilcoxon
Staff Writer

An East Coast native, Richard Wilcoxon grew up a die hard fan of traditional team sports. In the early 1990's, he stumbled onto the sport of MMA and has been hooked ever since. He started writing about the sport on his Sporting News member blog in 2005 where he worked to spread his passion for the sport. He eventually became an official staff writer for Sporting News' "The Rumble" MMA/boxing blog before joining The MMA Corner.