An hour after he lost to Gray Maynard on Friday, Clay Guida wasn't going to apologize for his performance.
Guida (29-13 MMA, 9-7 UFC) dropped a split decision to Maynard (11-1-1 MMA, 9-1-1 UFC) in the main event of UFC on FX 4. And though he started the fight as the clear fan favorite, he finished it to a chorus of boos actual ones at Revel Atlantic City in New Jersey and plenty of the cyber variety from critics online.
Fans said Guida was "running." So did his boss, UFC president Dana White, who also compared Guida's game plan to "Dancing With the Stars." And Maynard? Well, he was so frustrated in the fight that twice he let a pair of double middle fingers fly in Guida's direction.
There may be a fine line in MMA between "running" away from an opponent and simply employing an effective game plan. Guida believes he and his team at Greg Jackson's camp executed the latter.
"I think sometimes judges get the misconception of what mixed martial arts really is," Guida told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) after the fight. "The guy who gets hit the least usually is the victor. I can't wait to see the FightMetric of strikes that were landed versus strikes that were thrown. (It was) five rounds of fun.
"I know Gray had a good time out there I saw the frustration in his face. That was the plan. Our plan was to wear him down more and just not sit in the pocket with him. I felt confident in my combinations, but the dude hits like a Mack truck, and I didn't want to be there for too much of it."
And Guida wasn't there for much of it. According to FightMetric, Maynard landed just 52 total strikes in the fight for about a 23 percent clip. In the first three rounds, Maynard's total striking was in the single digits. But Guida, who said initially at the post-event news conference he thought he may have out-landed his opponent, didn't fare any better. He landed just 49 strikes but threw nearly 100 more than Maynard for about 15 percent accuracy.
Guida had made no secret of his team's game plan leading up to the fight. But because fans are used to his often-brawling fight style and his willingness to take a punch in order to land one or two of his own, watching him spend the better part of 25 minutes slipping Maynard's punches and backing up out of range to make him track him down again was a source of frustration.
Even Guida said it was hard to keep backing out in accordance with the strategy.
"It was hard for me not to stay in the pocket when Gray was throwing those big punches, but then he quickly reminded me when he socked me in the face and jaw and cheek a couple times," Guida said. "(My coaches are) masters of strategy. It may not be the most exciting, but I thought it was a pretty exciting 25-minute fight."
Guida's previous fight, a loss to eventual lightweight champion Benson Henderson, had plenty of "Fight of the Night"-worthy moments. But his win over Anthony Pettis in June 2011 had fans frustrated with his game plan, as well when he used takedowns to keep the dangerous Pettis off his feet en route to a unanimous decision on the tail end of a four-fight win streak.
White hopes this isn't the new Guida.
"These guys come up with game plans, whatever it is," White told MMAjunkie.com after the fight on Friday. "But to make a guy like Clay Guida go out and fight like that that was the game plan? I'm not his trainer. I'm not his coach. Maybe that's the way he wants to fight for the rest of his career. I don't know. I wouldn't advise it."
But Guida, responding to the fans' boos for his perceived lack of willingness to engage Maynard in a slugfest, said there may be times when the strategy has to be what it has to be fans' wishes be damned.
"The goombahs in the crowd the boos motivate me, and I was just getting into my groove," Guida said. "(Should I use) the game plan that they're used to from me, playing Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots and getting my head kicked off or punched in the face? Or stick to a smart strategy and don't be there for big punches? I like my game plan that Greg and Coach (Mike Winkeljohn) and (Israel Martinez) came up with."
The loss was Guida's second straight, which could effectively have him out of the immediate 155-pound title picture for the foreseeable future.