There are two things Clay Guida can’t live without: fighting and fishing.
The UFC lightweight has balanced both his entire professional career, and as he prepares to make his 35th walk to the Octagon this weekend at UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs Allen, his motivation to continue excelling at those two sports hasn’t slowed down.
“The motivation comes from being able to compete at the highest level with the best organization in the world, the NFL of mixed martial arts,” Guida said. “I’ll just keep going out there, working out and training with Team Alpha Male with all these wrestlers that are a lot younger than I am and just learning. To me, that is what keeps me going. I love to fight, I love to compete, I love to train, I love just being around this whole setting, this whole lifestyle. It’s always driven me, it’s always intrigued me and that’s why I’m still doing it.”
At 41 years old, Guida believes the best is still yet to come. Training out of Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, California, Guida works alongside current and former UFC talent, including Urijah Faber, Josh Emmett and Song Yadong. Getting rounds of sparring and drilling hours of technical skills daily with these elite athletes keeps Guida learning and constantly evolving his own set of tools to help him keep up with up and coming, younger fighters.
Along with its depth of UFC athletes, Guida points to Team Alpha Male’s extensive coaching staff as the root of his success this late in his career. Together, Guida and his coaches watch hours of tape throughout training camp until they all understand his upcoming opponent’s every move, and to have a plan in place to stop anything coming his way on fight night.
“We are like an NFL scout; we watch so much film we’re just like any other professional sport,” Guida said. “You have to know your opponent’s every move; what they’re going to do before they do it.
“[I’m] always fine tuning, always adding things to our tool belt. I‘m a bit of a slow learner, so maybe that’s the reason we’ve been doing this for so long because I still feel like I’m hitting my stride. Every time we come in for camp, it’s a new challenge to us and it just intrigues me to redefine myself every time. People keep saying, ‘Man, how much longer are you going to do this?’ I tell ‘em, ‘You guys get older, and we stay the same age.’”
While the years are going by, it does almost feel like Guida’s stayed the same age. Now nearly 60 fights deep into his professional career, “The Carpenter” has no intentions of slowing down, and finds it almost offensive to even question his thoughts on retirement.
Bonus Résumé | Clay Guida
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Bonus Résumé | Clay Guida
“[I’ve heard people say] in mixed martial arts and the UFC, three or four fights is the average career,” Guida acknowledged. “To me, it’s just like, ‘Man, after all that work to get to the UFC, you’re not going to stick around or you’re not going to train even harder to stay there?’ To me, that doesn’t sit well. We’re built to last and we’re going to keep doing this for a long time. I think Holly Holm said it best, ‘Do not put retirement next to my name because it’s almost an insult to me.’”
Throughout Guida’s many years training on the wrestling mats at Team Alpha Male, he befriended former UFC featherweight title challenger Chad Mendes. In 2015, Mendes helped build a fishing guide service, Finz and Featherz. After teaching Guida about the business aspects of the company, “The Carpenter” moved down to Florida and created his own service, in collaboration with Mendes, called Gillz and Thrillz, which helps its clients fish, as well as take them on an all-access adventure to an upcoming sporting event or concert.
Like fighting, Guida’s fished ever since he was a little kid. He fell in love with it, eventually making it his go-to pastime during training camp to help his body and mind slow down and recover from a hard day’s work. Now, Guida gets to share his love for fishing at a professional level and start building a career outside of fighting whenever the day comes that he does decide to hang up the gloves.
“I teamed up with my teammate Chad Mendes, he has Finz and Featherz, so we started Gillz and Thrillz with Guida,” Guida said. “It’s a fishing guide service; we take our clients out on the water – salt water, fresh water, anywhere in the country. We catch tarpon, bull sharks, tuna and then we’ll take them to a UFC event, we’ll take them to a rock concert like Metallica [or] Zac Brown Band. We take them to a live sporting event and take them behind the scenes; bring them backstage at some of these concerts, have them meet the fighters at these events, take ’em to the dugout. Just give them an all-access experience. It's pretty amazing and I just like to be able to pass on the things that I take an interest in and the things I like to do and pass it on to our fans, our clients, our friends, and really give them a lifetime experience.”
“Fishing is my getaway, my escape from being on the mats and training all the time. It helps with my recovery. Just being by the water, man, there’s something about it. There’s something about being one on one fighting a small fish, a huge fish, or whatever it is, and being able to target that fish, find it, trick it into eating our artificial bait or live bait. To me, it’s a challenge in itself, and once you hook that thing up, it’s very similar to fighting and wrestling; it’s individual, and no one can really help you. You might have a guide that’s kind of teaching you or walking you through it, or you might be fishing by yourself and you gotta talk yourself through it.”
This weekend, Guida stores away his fishing rods and boards a flight to Kansas City to challenge Rafa Garcia in the main card opener at UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs Allen. After dropping his first two fights in the promotion, Garcia’s picked up three wins in his last four, including a hype-stopping win over Maheshate in December.
Like Guida’s aforementioned training regimen suggests, he should know exactly what’s coming his way on Saturday. And while new opponents always bring new threats and challenges to overcome, Guida’s tactics stay consistent.
“Everyone knows first, our gas tank,” Guida said detailing where he plans on excelling against Garcia. “I’m the cardio king. We’re going to take him to a place he’s never been before and we’re going to see if he sinks or if he can swim. We’re going to bring the pressure, bring the pain and we’re going to bring that fury.”
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Rafa is a tough dude that’s going to come forward and he’s going to be throwing. He tries to finish the fight, he likes to wrestle, he likes to go to the ground, he looks comfortable everywhere and he’s always in for a battle; that’s what I love about his style. That’s why I’m so pumped up for this matchup. This one has Fight of the Night written all over it.”