FAIRFAX, VA—UFC fighter Clay Guida gave a spirited defense of the embattled sport of wrestling this weekend in response to a Breitbart Sports question about what explains fans chanting his name as they boo other cage-fighting wrestlers.
“I guess being an exciting wrestler helps,” Guida answered. “It all starts with the oldest sport that we almost lost a couple of years ago. Shame on those fans. I hope they get more educated and realize that the foundation, if you look at it—what do we have seven or eight weight classes? Probably five or six of them are wrestlers holding belts right now.”
UFC champions T.J. Dillashaw (bantamweight), Chris Weidman (middleweight), Jon Jones (light heavyweight), and Cain Velasquez (heavyweight) all rely on wrestling as their base skill. Additionally, welterweight champion Robbie Lawler, one of the best boxers in the sport, and flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson both wrestled, albeit in high school. Significantly, all of these champions expanded upon their wrestling arsenal. Dillashaw now exhibits some of the best footwork in all of mixed-martial arts, Jones wields unorthodox strikes, and Weidman boasts heavy hands.
Chad Mendes, a two-time NCAA All-American, nodded in approval as his Team Alpha Male teammate waxed passionately about the sport they both love but but some mixed-martial arts (MMA) fans hate.
The fans certainly didn’t hate Guida on Saturday. Guida repeatedly elevated Robbie Peralta and slammed him to the canvas in his unanimous decision victory. These body slams included the Illinoisan spiking Peralta head-down in the first round. Ticket holders at the Patriot Center event chanted the wrestler’s name in non sequitur fashion during matches subsequent to his.
Guida, whose resemblance to the Tasmanian Devil and cartoonish frenetic energy endears him to fans, owns wins over Rafael Dos Anjos, Nate Diaz, and Anthony Pettis. Despite Guida’s three-round war with fellow wrestler Diego Sanchez remaining among the best fights in UFC history, practitioners of the ancient sport suffer a reputation with fans of the newer sport as bores who win by laying atop their opponents.
“It’s not the most exciting all the time,” Guida, looking like a character out of a horror movie despite his dominant decision victory, confessed to Breitbart Sports on Saturday. “My fights are very sloppy, not very technical by any means. We’re always on the gas peddle, always on the throttle. We don’t let up.”
Critics haven’t let up on his base discipline.
The International Olympic Committee remarkably exiled the sport of the ancient Greeks from the 2020 Summer Games for seven months before readmitting it over baseball/softball and squash in a September 2013 vote. Title IX compliance subtracted more than 100 wrestling programs since the early 1980s from such schools as Arizona, UCLA, UMass, and Kansas. The National Wrestling Coaches Association posts a nine-page list in tiny font of collegiate wrestling programs that no longer exist. Illustrating the prejudice toward wrestlers who win fights instead of fans, former Olympian Ben Askren stands on the outside of the UFC looking in despite a perfect 14-0 record. Atop all this, wrestlers field the occasional question about whether they jump off the top rope during their matches or if their opponents utilize “foreign objects” and other underhanded tactics.
The Carpenter, who challenged President Obama to attend a UFC event and hinted at a return to lightweight after his victory, criticized fans of MMA who boo wrestling.
“Without wrestling,” Guida reasons, “mixed-martial arts would not be a sport.”