In hindsight, it’s pretty amazing to think that BJ Penn and Clay Guida have never crossed paths in battle before.
Both men are seasoned veterans and staples of the lightweight division’s history. With a combined 52 UFC fights between the two. With 26 UFC fights each, there is no shortage of incredible memories both have left fans with over the years.
And at UFC 237 on May 11 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the pair will finally meet inside the Octagon. Something that ‘The Carpenter’ couldn’t be happier about.
“First of all, all the incredible fights that BJ put on,” Guida said on The MMA Hour. “He paved the way for not just the lightweight division, but pretty much the UFC. He’s done so much for the sport, so much for so many up-and-coming fighters. I’m just so excited and thrilled that they offered a fight like that. I could not turn it down. That’s not our style, we accept every fight with open arms. To compete against a legend like BJ, he’s more than just a legend. He’s one of the creators, he’s a pioneer. He’s ‘The Prodigy’ for a reason. So we’re excited about this matchup.”
Unfortunately for ‘The Prodigy,’ it’s been quite some time since his last victory in the Octagon. Because of that, many have had their opinions voiced as to whether or not the legend should retire for good.
“It’s kind of hard to believe that,” Guida said of Penn’s losing streak. “It’s hard to think the guy that was the former two-time champion — lightweight and welterweight — hasn’t won a fight in nine-plus years. It’s pretty incredible. But you know what, getting in the cage with someone like BJ Penn, it’s an opportunity you can’t turn down. He’s the only one, his camp and his family are the only ones to say if he should be competing or not. That’s totally up to him. I’m not in a position to say that, so I’m accepting the fight and we’re gonna put on a show for the fans.”
Heading into this next battle as he looks to rebound off a loss himself, Guida plans to get back to his old ‘Carpenter ways’ by utilizing some vintage ground and pound as he anticipated that the fight will indeed go to the ground. A place where he realizes Penn can be at his most dangerous.
Regardless, it’s just an honor for the Johnsburg, Illinois native to get to share the Octagon with the former champion.
“It gets us back in the win column,” Guida said. “Having a finish is what we’re going for against BJ, obviously. Just like every fight. Beating not just a legend, he’s a Hall of Famer. Having a win over BJ Penn, someone like that, it puts you in the next echelon… Him and Jens Pulver paved the way for us. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them.”
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This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 3/20/2019