The stakes are unclear for Guida/Maynard

June, 19, 2012
6/19/12
5:47
AM ET
Mindenhall By Chuck Mindenhall
ESPN.com
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In the most compelling of the 22 UFC fights going on this weekend, Gray Maynard and Clay Guida will scrap in Atlantic City.

It’s a fun fight to handicap. It’s an aggravating fight to try and figure out exactly what it is that’s at stake for the winner.

Let’s start with the obvious -- the Friday night headliners on the Jersey Shore have a lot in common. They both have wrestling, though Maynard’s is thought to be better. They both are coming off losses to current and erstwhile champions. They both hover near the top of a division where the UFC hoards its talent.

They both beat Nate Diaz.

It’s this last thing that makes everything complicated and turns promises into fleeting little things. Diaz, riding a three-fight winning streak, is penciled in as the next in line to face the winner of Frankie Edgar/Ben Henderson. That fight isn’t set to take place until Aug. 11 at UFC 150 in Denver (and here we should knock on wood, given the rash of injuries plaguing this summer). That means Diaz could be in limbo until at least November, depending on how badly they hinder each other.

Realistically, Diaz could be looking at December should he wait.

But the winner of this UFC on FX 4 fight will have three things going for him. One, he will have beaten the other. Two, he will have beaten the other plus Nate Diaz. Three, he will have won last, and everybody knows what’s latest has a way of becoming what’s most relevant.

Of course, it gets even more complicated when you stick the recovering Anthony Pettis into this company. Guida beat Pettis, too. But Pettis beat Henderson. Henderson beat Guida. It’s a mad round-robin that could give matchmaker Joe Silva existential vertigo if he doesn’t have a stubborn battle plan.

So what’s at stake for the winner of Maynard/Guida this weekend? Search me, brother.
[+] EnlargeAnthony Pettis vs. Clay Guida
Ric Fogel for ESPN.comClay Guida, left, holds a win over Anthony Pettis, who has defeated Benson Henderson, who has defeated Guida ...

If Maynard beats Guida, perhaps he’s too early for another title shot. A bout against Pettis -- whom he’s had choice words for in the past -- could be in the cards. Or, if Diaz can be tempted into redeeming himself from that Fight Night card back in 2010 where he lost a split decision to Maynard, maybe the UFC syncs up the schedules and makes that a No. 1 contender’s bout.

Then there’s also the off-chance of Maynard/Edgar IV, should Edgar win too. After all, they are 1-1-1 in the series. (This couldn’t possibly happen, could it?).

But if Guida wins, it’s a little different. Guida has wins over both Pettis and Diaz, so he would look like a more obvious No. 1 contender. The problem there is the UFC may not want to play back Guida/Henderson, the greatest Facebook fight of all time that took place on the first UFC on FOX card in November. Guida lost a decision to Henderson in that one. So, if Guida were to win Friday night, it would either be Diaz again -- whom he beat by split decision at UFC 94 -- or Edgar, should he beat Henderson. That is, unless Edgar beats Henderson controversially to dial up the trilogy.

In other words, there’s absolutely nothing clear about where the winner of Guida/Maynard will stand. There are so many trump cards in play that it’s going to boil down to druthers. Right now, it looks like Diaz is next for a title shot. By Saturday, it could look like Guida. Or Maynard. The only thing we can be semi-certain of is that the UFC will try and avoid unwanted repetition.

Looked at as a whole, Guida and Maynard will be fighting for, if not for title contention, at least the right to hold onto their arguments.

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