LAS VEGAS – As a 39-year-old lightweight, it’s not often Clay Guida gets matched up against someone older than him. Saturday at UFC on ESPN 31 he’ll experience the rare exception when he takes on 41-year-old Leonardo Santos.
Although the age gap doesn’t seem like much on paper, it feels significant to Guida (36-21 MMA, 16-15 UFC), who faces Santos (18-4-1 MMA, 7-1-1 UFC) on the main cardat the UFC Apex.
“I used to be the young guy. It’s been a long time since then,” Guida told MMA Junkie at Wednesday’s UFC on ESPN 31 media day. “We’re going to show him, I forget what movie it is: ‘They get older, and I stay the same age.’ He’s quite a bit older than me, and we’re going to make him feel that way in there. I’ll be 40 in a week, and I feel like I’m going on 20. I’m in better shape now than when I was 25, and I feel like every time I look out my window at the hotel I see Mandalay Bay where we made our UFC debut back in 2006 at UFC 64. It’s just a constant reminder we have a lot more in our gas tank and our reserve tank.”
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Guida said he’s eager to see how his wrestling-based grappling style matches up with Santos’ jiu-jitsu oriented approach on the mat. “The Carpenter,” who ranks in the top five for most takedowns landed in UFC history, has had great success throughout his career in taking opponents to the mat.
Coming into his third fight of the year, Guida thinks everything is clicking in order to set up a winning performance. He said activity has been one of the biggest recipes to success throughout his career, and despite being on the tail end of it, he still sees the chance for many more wins.
“It’s great to be this active again,” Guida said. “That’s all I asked Dana White and Sean Shelby when we had our meeting a year ago in 2020. I said, ‘Please, man, I just want to stay active. I want to compete as much as possible. Two or three fights a year would be awesome.’ They said sure, so here we are for our third in 2021. It’s been one of the best years of my career. Even though we’re .500, I think we’ve put on some good performances against some pretty good names.”
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