Making the Case for Anthony Pettis vs. Clay Guida

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MMA Weekly spoke with Mike Roberts, WEC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis' manager, who let them know that Pettis wasn't interested in waiting for the rematch of Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard:

"Anthony was obviously disappointed in not getting the title shot, but he also understands why Dana made that decision," Roberts said. "After consulting with Anthony and Duke Roufus, we collectively decided that it would be in Anthony’s best interest to take a fight in the meantime.

"A 10-month or possible year layoff was just too long. We believe with a win against a top lightweight contender Anthony will still get the title shot later in the year".

Pettis is coming off a stellar fight against Ben Henderson at WEC 53, which was the final fight for the promotion.  It's no surprise that Pettis and his management have opted to go with fighting once before fighting for the UFC lightweight title against the winner of Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard III. Pettis is on the rise, and another win will not only get more eyes on him, but solidify his role as number one contender.  There's just one option that really makes sense to me, and that is matching Pettis up against Clay Guida, who just put on a quality performance against Takanori Gomi at UFC 125.  There are three major points that lead me to believe that this is the match that should be, and most likely will be made.  

First and foremost, this fight has potential to be one of the most exciting fights of the year.  Then, the timing for this fight is perfect, and last, this will generate even more interest in the Edgar Maynard rematch, as well as the eventual title unification bout.

Excitement Factor:

"Fan friendly" fights are always something the UFC likes to set up.  Something...easy on the eyes, so to speak.  A fight between Pettis and Guida would likely bring the house down, of course, nothing is certain, but the flashy sprawl and brawl of Pettis, and the relentless attack of Guida match up beautifully.  The fans recognize both of these men as exciting fighters, and plenty will tune in for that particular reason.  The match can be billed as one of the most exciting fights of the year, and we don't have to roll our eyes when we hear it.

After the jump, we break down the last two points, and discuss why the WEC title should be on the line as well.

Timing:

WEC 53 took place on the 16th of December, UFC 125 went down on New Years Day.  Both fighters took little damage, with Guida already back in the gym having fought just a week ago today.  This fight would be a great addition to any of the cards taking place this spring, although I would like to see it headline on free TV.  The timing isn't just good in regards to health and schedule though, these fighters are both at great points of their careers to face one another.  Pettis' star is on the rise, and Guida has been looking for divisional breakthrough for quite a while now, and may be able to accomplish it now that he's with Greg Jackson.  Meeting each other will certainly further the victor's cause, a win for Pettis will give him his first win in the UFC, and even more eyes will be on him.  A win for Guida springboards him to the title, and gives him a chance to prove that he's not just a gatekeeper, but a top dog in the division.

Building Hype:

Hype is money in MMA, and the UFC knows this.  Pettis is a hot commodity after landing one of the most magnificent kicks in the history of MMA against Ben Henderson, and a fight with an exciting fighter like Guida will give him ample opportunity to showcase what has been regarded as some of the most unique, and effective striking in the sport today.  There's plenty to be gained for Guida as well, although he wouldn't be the favorite going into this fight, Guida will be presented with an opportunity to put on yet another great fight, and get some of the hype behind Pettis for his own.

If pushed right (and you can bet it would be), this fight should garner a significant amount of attention.  With plenty of fans watching, a great fight will bring even more attention to the winner as a number one contender.  Then, with an exciting, proven number one contender, fans will watch the rematch between Edgar and Maynard eager to see who will take the UFC belt into a unification match.  

Conclusion:

Pettis vs. Guida is right up the UFC's alley, the match up has all the ingredients needed to be an absolute hit, and it would give Pettis a solid test prior to his UFC lightweight title shot.  I believe the WEC title should be on the line in this fight, although it's a pain to have the belt carry over into the UFC and exist longer than one simple unification bout, this is a match that is definitely deserving of five rounds.  We'll see which direction the UFC wants to go with Pettis wanting a fight, but I personally feel that this match up makes the most sense, and is the best of what is available.

Photo via Dave Mandel, for Sherdog

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