UFC Fight Night 39 Play: Clay “The Carpenter” Guida (-130) vs Tatsuya “Crusher” Kawajiri (+110)

Tatsuya KawajiriUFC Fight Night 39 Date: April 11, 2014 Arena: DU Arena City: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates Featherweight bout: Clay “The Carpenter” Guida (-130) vs Tatsuya “Crusher” Kawajiri (+110) Fight Breakdown: The co-main event for UFC Fight Night 39 in Abu Dhabi will be a featherweight affair between a pair of former lightweights, when Clay “The Carpenter” Guida faces off against Tatsuya “Crusher” Kawajiri. Both have a history of exciting fights under their belts, and this one should prove to be no different. “The Carpenter” is currently a slight betting favorite in this scrap at -130 ($130 to win $100), with “Crusher” being a slight underdog at +110 ($100 to win $110) at Several Bookmakerss. Clay “The Carpenter” Guida (30-14 MMA, 10-8 UFC) is 1-3 in his last four fights, and 1-1 since dropping from lightweight down to the featherweight division. The lone victory came against Hatsu Hioki via split decision in a fight some fans felt Hioki won. I was not paying close attention to the fight at the time, but every time I looked at the screen, it looked as if Guida was in control of the fight. However, because I was not paying close attention, I thought maybe Hioki did some big things I missed. Now, after re-watching the fight, I think it is silly for anybody to call that decision a robbery. I personal thought Guida did enough to win every round, and gave the fight to him 30-27. I’m surprised it was a split decision and not unanimous. Unfortunately, “The Carpenter” was not as successful in his next outing, as he suffered the first T/KO defeat of his professional mixed martial arts career at the hands of Chad “Money” Mendes. After seven months away from the Octagon, the 32 year old native of Illinois is ready to make another run towards that 145 pound gold. The Jackson-Winklejohn MMA product has incredible cardio, and will undoubtedly be able to go all 15 minutes of action without losing a single pep in his step. I think of him as “The Ultimate Warrior” of the UFC. With that said, he will certainly have an advantage in the conditioning department, as he heads into this featherweight bout against Kawajiri. Guida has excellent footwork, and he is fast, even at 145 pounds. He is good at mixing it up on the feet, and moves in and out really well. He also faints well, and is good at setting up his takedowns. “The Carpenter” likes to throw over-hand right’s and high kicks, and in general, he has been showing improvements in his striking. That said, he is a grappler first, and quite a talented and dominant won, too. He possesses great takedowns, and works the inside of his opponents’ guards really well, rarely ever looking to pass and improve on the position. He is often content in staying in the guard, from where has excellent top control and likes to do damage with his ground and pound. Guida feels most comfortable inside of his opponents’ guard, because of his aforementioned excellent top control, and also his noteworthy submission defense. Even submission arts with dangerous guards, a la Anthony Pettis, have a hard time submitting Guida off their backs. Tatsuya “Crusher” Kawajiri (33-7-2 MMA, 1-0 UFC) was impressive in his Octagon debut in January, scoring a second round rear naked choke submission victory over rising Blackzilian featherweight product Sean Soriano. Kawajiri faced some diversity in the early going of the fight, but made an impressive turnaround, and ultimately scored the finish. Sandwiched between 18 wins, he has only four losses, and two of them came against came against current UFC lightweight title challenger Gilbert Melendez, with the other two being against current Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez and current OneFC and Dream lightweight champion Shinya Aoki. The 35 year old has faced the “who’s who” of lightweights, beating nearly all of them, and is undefeated since dropping from lightweight down to 145 pounds. He came short of winning a championship at 155 pounds, and became dead-set at winning a title at featherweight. The veteran hopes that with a win over Guida, he will be one more win away from earning a number-one contender match-up. His goal when signing his UFC contract was to put together three wins, and then fight for the title. “Crusher” is a well-versed mixed martial artist who possesses excellent wrestling skills. He works a solid double leg takedowns, as well as nice body lock and trip takedowns. He is very relentless with his takedowns. The 35 year old veteran is very powerful, and has great top control. He works a very effective ground and pound attack, and is good at taking his opponents’ backs and singing in the rear naked choke to wrap things up, as was evident in his Octagon debut against Soriano. Kawajiri is an excellent grinder who constantly keeps the pressure on his opponents, hardly giving them any room to breathe. He transitions well on the mat, moving from position to position. The native of Japan has a solid submission game, both offensively and defensively. He prefers to be in top position on the mat, but is comfortable being on the bottom. He is not a skilled technical striker, but he is a very good brawler. Kawajiri can stand and trade with anyone, and he is arguably the hardest hitting fighter in the featherweight division. Whenever asked, Gilbert Melendez has always said that out of everyone he’s ever fought, Kawajiri hit him the hardest. Melendez said that after the fight he felt like he had been hit by a truck. The 35 year old packs a heavy punch and likes to throw kicks, too. He often likes to use a left high kick, and uses a left crescent kick, also. Kawajiri is a tough fighter with a good chin and a ton of heart. He will be at a cardio disadvantage entering this bout against Guida, though contrary to popular opinion, I don’t think his cardio will play a factor in this match-up. Gabe’s Prediction: I think Kawajiri’s conditioning is better than people are giving him credit for. I don’t think he is going to gas in this bout. I am a big Clay Guida fan, but I think this is Kawajiri’s time. I’m not sure how he’s going to do it, but I am expecting him to do enough to win at least two out of three rounds on the judges’ scorecards. Gabe’s Call: “Crusher” by Submission (rear naked choke, 2:43 round 3) Gabe’s Recommended Play: Tatsuya Kawajiri (+110) 3u to win 3.3u

Written by Gabe Killian

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