ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Don’t tell Clay Guida time isn’t on his side.
For one of the true veterans of the UFC, the 32-year-old featherweight has grown into a fan favorite through the years thanks to a frenetic, crowd-pleasing pace in his 42 professional fights (31-11, including 11-8 in the UFC) and constant respect he shows for the mixed-martial arts game.
That’s why it may have caught some people off guard when Dennis Bermudez, Guida’s opponent in tonight’s “UFC on Fox 12” main card in San Jose, Calif., fired shots about wanting a better opponent.
“We were shooting for someone a little more, I don’t know, someone more in their prime, if you will,” the 27-year-old Bermudez said on the “MMA Hour” webcast when asked about fighting Guida.
“I think Clay Guida’s best days (are behind him).”
Guida, UFC’s No. 7 ranked featherweight who trains at Albuquerque’s Jackson-Winkeljohn MMA gym, tried taking the high road when asked by the Journal about those comments.
“I don’t really pay attention,” Guida said.
Asked then whether he felt he was past his prime, Guida laughed before offering up a quick response that hinted at his actually being quite aware of what his opponent had said.
“It’s funny that people say that,” Guida said. “Scientists have done studies that most males do not reach their prime or their pinnacle in their fitness until their mid-30s. I’m 32 right now, and I’m no mathematician, but we’ve got a few years left of doing this, having fun with it and putting our best foot forward. We will leave that to Saturday night.”
Of course Guida is facing a fighter in Bermudez (14-3) who is riding a six-fight win streak, begging the question in his camp why he has yet to break the UFC’s top 10 rankings in the division.
“I’m excited about his momentum, about his win streak,” Guida said. “It makes my victory come Saturday all that much sweeter. … With momentum, there’s always got to be a stop to it. I’m going to be the guy to put a stop to it come Saturday.”
Guida points out that much of Bermudez’s success in the cage, and in particular during his current win streak, has come against fighters not at all similar to Guida.
“Most of those guys are long and rangy grapplers outside of Matt Grice, who’s a short, stocky wrestler who kind of gave him fits,” said Guida, who stands 5-foot-7. “Oh yeah, we’re looking to go out there and have some fun Saturday night like we always do and just put on a barnburner.”
TIM MEANS BUSINESS: Moriarty’s Tim Means, who fights out of Albuquerque’s FIT-NHB gym, also fights on tonight’s nationally televised card on Fox. Means (20-6-1) fights Hernani Perpetuo (17-4) on the preliminary card, which starts on Fox at 4 p.m.
The four-fight main card, which includes Guida’s fight, starts at 6 p.m.