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Guida keeps goal in mind

UFC fighter Clay “The Carpenter” Guida  faces his friend Chad Mendes tonight in Milwaukee. (Dean Hanson/Albuquerque Journal)
UFC fighter Clay “The Carpenter” Guida faces his friend Chad Mendes tonight in Milwaukee. (Dean Hanson/Albuquerque Journal)
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Forty-three fights into his professional mixed martial arts career and the goal remains the same for 31-year-old Clay Guida.

He’s on a mission not to merely put on entertaining undercard fights, though he’s become one of the best at doing just that. He wants to have a title belt around his waist and he wants it soon.

“I lose track of how many fights I’ve won or lost. That doesn’t mean anything to me,” Guida told the Journal. “The only thing that matters to me, which is paramount to why I train so hard every day, is knowing that someday I’m going to be the UFC champion – whether it be as featherweight or lightweight, it doesn’t matter. I’m more motivated now and in better shape now than when I was 18. I have a new skill set and the best is yet to come.”

Guida, dubbed in “The Carpenter” since his days working as a union carpenter before blossoming into one of the more entertaining MMA fighters in the sport, puts that skill set, and his 30-13 professional record, on display tonight when he fights Chad Mendes (14-1) on the main card of the UFC 164 in Milwaukee.

Mendes, the No. 1 contender to Jose Aldo’s UFC featherweight belt, has won his last three fights by knocking out his opponent since being knocked out by Aldo in January 2012 in UFC 142.

“Chad is a very athletic, very explosive wrestler with knockout power,” Guida said. “He’s been on a roll. He’s knocked his last three opponents out and that’s going to stop (tonight).”

Guida is ranked ninth in the UFC’s featherweight division and oddsmakers aren’t giving him much of chance to beat Mendes. Not included in that camp is Greg Jackson, one of Guida’s coaches at Albuquerque’s Jackson-Winkeljohn MMA.

“Any time you count Clay out of something, just look at his career and who he’s beaten and you’ll see it’s a mistake,” Jackson said. “He’s a veteran and one of those guys you don’t count out.”

Jackson says Mendes may be Guida’s top opponent to date other than UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson, the headliner of tonight’s UFC 164 card, who beat Guida by decision in November 2011.

Guida is the sixth Jackson-Winkeljohn fighter this week to be in the main card of a UFC fight (he and heavyweight Frank Mir tonight for UFC 164 and four more fought in Wednesday’s UFC Fight Night). He says that while he and Mendes are friends outside of the octagon, tonight is all about getting back on track for his title goals.

“I’m not taking him lightly,” Guida said. “Chad’s a friend of mine, a buddy. But all things aside, we’re going out there and we’re going to put on a show.”

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